Rising volumes of solar capacity are to be welcomed but, as panelists at a session of today’s SolarPower Europe event discussed, the technology must be kept ethical and responsible. That means industry working together; new, harmonized, mandatory and voluntary policy instruments; and a focus on quantifiable, life cycle-based investor criteria.
It is undeniable that easy access to energy has provided tremendous benefits to humankind over the last several decades. But that access has come at a price – one that society only discovered after the fact. From the thousand-year half-lives of spent nuclear fuel to the climate change impact of fossil fuels, access to energy has had a high environmental cost. Renewable energy, especially solar, seeks to provide that same access without the environmental cost. But what is the environmental impact of solar panels and inverters? Is society once again seeking to benefit from an energy source without understanding and addressing its environmental impact? Not this time, writes Green Electronics Council CEO Nancy Gillis.
The solar industry faces many challenges in its move to become truly sustainable and that goal is imperative, rather than being simply a luxury, if the sector is to achieve terawatt scale. pv magazine’s first Sustainability Roundtable took place on June 10 and included discussion as to why sustainability matters in PV and which business, regulatory and technological approaches can be applied to achieve truly “green” solar power. A video of the event can be streamed online.
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