He stated: "I believe photovoltaics will become one of the major industries of the 21st century and that the only sensible long-term product is one involving non-toxic materials. The continued exclusion of photovoltaics from ROHS legislation is clearly inhibiting the development of such product, for example Pb-free silicon and Cd-free CIGS modules. For this reason, I would like to see a date fixed for RoHS-compliance that gave all industry players adequate time to develop compliant product.
The institute specifically stated that "the only way to rule out the risks associated with the use of cadmium in PV is to refrain from using cadmium in the first place".
The call comes as it says it has new evidence regarding the safety of cadmium-telluride (CdTe) solar panels.
In a statement, scientists from around the world who are backing the institute, including Professor Green, said: "We, the undersigned scientists, note that the EU will soon come to a decision with regard to the important environmental RoHS directive. We would like to make policy makers and the public aware of most recent scientific evidence that sheds new light on the safety of CdTe solar panels, which are currently not covered by RoHS."
The Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy said it conducted an appraisal of recent tests on CdTE PV modules by independent scientific institutions.
According to the analyses, it was found that if disposed of "in an improper and unprofessional way", the modules pose a threat to the environment. "The only way to rule out the risks associated with the use of cadmium in PV," explained the institute, "is to refrain from using cadmium in the first place. This requires non-toxic substitutes to be readily available, which they are (e.g. silicon-based PV)."
It went on to say that cadmium should not spread in green solar technologies, but needs to be disposed of safely. It added: "We believe similar problems may exist with lead in the silicon based modules mentioned above, although manufacturers of those modules have expressed their desire to comply with RoHS legislation should this be directed."
The scientists backing the institute include:
Prof. Joao Pedro Alpuim, University of Minho, Portugal
Dr. Stephan Bannas, Theodor Wessels Prize Laureate, Germany
Dr. Daniel Dahm, Federation of German Scientists, German Association of the Club of Rome
Dr. Antonin Fejfar, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Czech Republic
Prof. Takashi Fuyuki, Nara Institute of Sciences, Japan
Prof. George E. Georghiou, University of Cyprus, Cyprus
Prof. Martin Green, University of New South Wales, Australia
Yutaka Hayashi, National Institute of AIST, Japan
Prof. Ferdinand Hucho, Free University of Berlin, Germany
Prof. Tadashi Saitoh, Tokyo Agricultural & Technical University, Japan
Prof. Ruud Schropp, University of Utrecht, Netherlands
Dr. Markus Schubert, University of Stuttgart, Germany
Prof. Jürgen H. Werner, University of Stuttgart, Germany