“Clean” energy’s toxic waste

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On February 10, the Associated Press released a lengthy article, “Solar Industry Grapples with Hazardous Wastes.” Google some of those terms, and you’ll see the issue has been percolating below the surface for some time.

Here’s a small piece of Colorado evidence I can share with you.

While I was investigating a tip that there were severe environmental concerns at now-defunct Abound Solar in Loveland and Ft. Collins (more on that tip/investigation later), I went through some documents regarding Abound from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. In one of those documents, it caught my eye that a report noted that the solar manufacturer’s “waste stream” was estimated to create 630 pounds of hazardous cadmium compounds…per month! Go to page 2 on this document:

Abound – Colorado Department of Health by CompleteColorado

This isn’t to say there aren’t pollution problems from essentially any kind of energy provider. But it highlights, yet again, the notion of trade-offs when it comes to producing anything, energy included.

From the AP article:

The fossil fuels used to transport that waste, experts say, is not typically considered in calculating solar’s carbon footprint, giving scientists and consumers who use the measurement to gauge a product’s impact on global warming the impression that solar is cleaner than it is.

Not long ago, Colorado State Representative Max Tyler said,

With HB 1001 we will manufacture and install panels and turbines all over Colorado to capture free energy….The sun will always shine for free, the winds will always blow for free, and our energy production will be cleaner. Renewable energy, green jobs, and a cleaner future — what’s not to like?

Well, how about thousands of pounds of toxic compounds, Mr. Tyler? Just because the sun shines for free, and the wind blows for free, doesn’t mean there is no cost. Scarcity of materials and time is still the single, dominant rule of life. There is no free lunch!

Now, back to the “tips” that originally led me to acquire the documents. I would say that my investigation of potential environmental problems at Abound is far from over, so if you have information you’d like to share, email me at CompleteColorado@gmail.com



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