April 6, 2009

The darker side of solar

You know why traditional chemical manufacturing processes are considered very energy efficient these days? Because they have been doing these processes for decades.

This cannot be said for newer manufacturing methods such as solar panel production, according to Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Timothy Gutowski.
"The seemingly extravagant use of materials and energy resources by many newer manufacturing processes is alarming and needs to be addressed alongside claims of improved sustainability from products manufactured by these means," he says.

Professor Gutowski said the inherent inefficiency of current solar panel manufacturing methods could drastically reduce the technology's lifecycle energy balance, "that is, the ratio of the energy the panel would produce over its useful lifetime to the energy required to manufacture it."

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