Desire to Know
Dr. Jane Goodall
Solar Cells 23,000 Times Worse than Carbon Dioxide 2 Dec, 2015 | Modified 2 Dec, 2015 | Views 1003
Nitrogen trifluoride is 17,000 times more virulent than CO2, and SF6, the most treacherous greenhouse gas, is over 23,000 times more threatening.
Solar Cells Linked to Greenhouse Gases Over 23,000 Times Worse than Carbon Dioxide According to New Book, Green Illusions
Solar cells do not offset greenhouse gases or curb fossil fuel use in the United States according to a new environmental book, Green Illusions, written by University of California - Berkeley visiting scholar Ozzie Zehner. Green Illusions explains how the solar industry has grown to become one of the leading emitters of hexafluoroethane (C2F6), nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). These three potent greenhouse gases, used by solar cell fabricators, make carbon dioxide (CO2) seem harmless.
Hexafluoroethane has a global warming potential that is 12,000 times higher than CO2, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It is 100 percent manufactured by humans, and survives 10,000 years once released into the atmosphere. Nitrogen trifluoride is 17,000 times more virulent than CO2, and SF6, the most treacherous greenhouse gas, is over 23,000 times more threatening.
The solar photovoltaic industry is one of the fastest-growing emitters of these gases, which are now measurably accumulating within the earth's atmosphere according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). A NOAA study shows that atmospheric concentrations of SF6 have been rising exponentially. A paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters documents that atmospheric NF3 levels have been rising 11 percent per year.
Instead, Zehner advocates shifting to energy taxes and other conservation measures. He claims that even some of the most expensive options for dealing with CO2 would become cost competitive long before today's solar cell technologies.
"If limiting CO2 is our goal, we might be better off directing our time and resources to those options first; solar cells seem a wasteful and pricey strategy," says Zehner. "It is hard to conceive of a justification for extracting taxes from the working class to fund installations of Stone Age photovoltaic technologies high in the gold-rimmed suburbs of Arizona and California."