First Solar hits back at Wuppertal Institute’s call for industry to “refrain” from using CdTe in PV

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".

However, according to First Solar, the institute’s appraisal includes a review of the analyses conducted by Sierra Analytical Labs, based in California, the U.S., which means the analytical results are based on U.S. and California specific test methods. They have, therefore, “no relevance to the EU RoHS debate”.

Additionally, it has said that despite the stated mission of the NTSA to ban CdTe PV technology in Europe, the new report demonstrates that CdTe PV modules at end-of-life are non-hazardous waste in Europe, just like any other solar modules currently on the market.

In its statement, First Solar explained: “The analyses conducted by Sierra Analytical Labs included both a Total Threshold Limit Concentration (TTLC) test, which is not reflective of environmental risk or leachability, but only indicates the total concentration of cadmium (mg/kg) in a sample, and a Soluble Threshold Limit Concentration (STLC) test, which is a California specific leaching test. According to a scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory and an engineering professor at Columbia University who has studied the life cycle of solar panels ‘all types of solar modules will fail those [TTLC and STLC] test’.”

Click here to read the full statement.

Professor Martin A. Green, on the other hand, has told pv magazine that he would like to see a fixed date for RoHS compliance.

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.”

Click here to read about the Wuppertal Institute’s calls for PV to be placed under the RoHS Directive.