Brookhaven Lecture

"407th Brookhaven Lecture: 'Photovoltaics and the Environment'"

Presented by Vasilis Fthenakis, Environmental Sciences

Wednesday, September 21, 2005, 4:00 pm — Berkner Hall Auditorium

Over the past five years, solar energy usage has grown by about 43 percent a year, giving rise to a billion-dollar industry in photovoltaics (PV) or getting electricity from light. The word photovoltaics combines the Greek phos, or light, with the �volt� of electricity. PV technologies have distinct environmental advantages over conventional power technologies, such as: no noise, no emissions, no need for fuel and power lines. Compared to burning coal, a gigawatt-hour of PV-generated electricity would prevent the release of about 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide, eight of sulfur dioxide, four of nitrogen oxides, and 0.4 tons of particulates. However, manufacturing the solar cells that transform light to electricity requires the use of some toxic and flammable substances. Addressing the environmental, health, and safety concerns of the PV industry to minimize risk while ensuring economic viability and public support is the work of the National Photovoltaic Environmental Health, & Safety Assistance Center at BNL.

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