According to cancer biologist David H. Nguyen, PhD, toxic chemicals in solar panels include cadmium telluride, copper and indium selenide, cadmium gallium (di), cadmium selenide (di), cadmium selenide (di), selenide, hexafluoroethane, lead and polyvinyl fluoride. Silicon tetrachloride, a byproduct of crystalline silicon production, is also highly toxic. The other toxic material, cadmium telluride (CdTe), is a known carcinogen used in a specialized type of solar energy called a thin film.
Improvements in traditional silicon solar energy have reduced the market share of thin film to around 2% and are expected to continue to decline. However, all CdTe cells are encapsulated and, even under extreme landfill conditions, very few of them escape to the environment. There is a growing public awareness that so-called environmentally friendly energy sources, such as wind turbines and solar panels, aren't so environmentally friendly after all. The truth is that solar panels are made almost entirely of abundant and environmentally friendly materials such as glass, aluminum, copper and silicon.
The EU model of having producers finance the return and recycling of solar panels could be good for the United States. Recyclers usually remove the panel frame and its junction box to recover the aluminum and copper, and then crush the rest of the module, including glass, polymers and silicon cells, which are coated with a silver electrode and soldered with tin and lead. Stanford magazine also points out that solar energy has a higher carbon footprint than wind and nuclear energy. According to EPA language, you are responsible for the storage of any toxic waste you generate “from the cradle to the grave.” Solar panels are easy to manufacture products, with a wide range of scientific and manufacturing variations that are already in use.
Whether it's thousands of non-recyclable wind turbine blades reaching landfills or the growing recognition that solar panels contain toxic heavy metals that can pose a risk to the environment if they leave the panels, the environmental costs of “renewable energy” are increasingly evident. It's no wonder that Chinese factories, when faced with the exorbitant costs (both financial and environmental) of properly breaking down chemicals in solar panels, prefer to release them into the environment rather than disposing of them in an environmentally safe manner. It also suggests that you are ignoring the intense energy inputs used to produce these materials for the manufacture of solar panels. And because solar panels contain toxic materials, such as lead, that can leach as they decay, landfills also create new environmental hazards.
In a 2003 study, researchers drew attention to the fact that cadmium is the benefactor of a special environmental treatment, which allows solar energy to be more economically efficient (insofar as that word applies perfectly to solar energy, even in the current state of subsidies). Beyond the inefficient use of these resources from the outset (in the process of manufacturing crystalline silicon from silicon, up to 80 percent of raw silicon is lost), there are numerous human health problems directly related to the manufacture and disposal of solar panels. Solar panel manufacturers usually guarantee that they will maintain 80% of their efficiency for about 20 years.