How Green Are Those Solar Panels, Really?

As the industry grows, so does concern over the environmental impact.
Nov 11, 2014 4:20 PM ET

The Great Energy Challenge Energy News

As the world seeks cleaner power, solar energy capacity has increased sixfold in the past five years. Yet manufacturing all those solar panels, a Tuesday report shows, can have environmental downsides.
 
Fabricating the panels requires caustic chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and hydrofluoric acid, and the process uses water as well as electricity, the production of which emits greenhouse gases. It also creates waste. These problems could undercut solar's ability to fight climate change and reduce environmental toxics.