Environmental, Safety and Health Issues and Perspectives
The photovoltaic (PV) industry must continue its pro-active approach to prevent accidents and environmental damage, and to sustain PV's inherent environmental, health, and safety (EHS) advantages. This paper presents an overview of EHS issues related to current and emerging PV technologies and gives examples of this pro-active approach. We summarize the hazards related to potential accidental releases of toxic or flammable gases used in photovoltaic cell production, and strategies for reducing such risks (e.g., choosing material and process options which inherently have small risks, and preventing accident-initiating events).
Other issues discussed herein include reducing the use of toxic or carcinogenic materials in powder form, managing liquid hazardous waste, and recycling solid waste and spent modules. As the PV industry approaches these issues and mitigation strategies in a vigilant, systematic way, the risk to the industry, the workers, and the public will become minimal. An example is also discussed of environmental benefits from a large scale PV implementation, that is the potential of PV in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Last Modified: June 18, 2008