Cost of solar panels manufacture a green catch-22

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by admin on September 1, 2010

The Editor,

I am sure that Joe Shepstone is very sincere in his quest to tread lightly on the planet, but his “Living Green” column (Low Down, Aug. 25 edition) contained some statements that I believe to be quite inaccurate.

I certainly don’t think that solar power will be viable in the near future, as it is my understanding that solar panels are just now being developed that return, over their lifetime, the amount of energy put into their manufacture and installation.

That means that all of the panels installed to date, everywhere in the world, are doing as much to help the environment as digging a series of holes and filling them back in. Since the manufacture of solar panels is so energy-intensive and expensive, you cannot make them with solar energy – a green catch-22.

On one hand, German solar panels are no different from the ones presently being installed – with huge taxpayer subsidies – in Canadian farmers’ fields, which of course, are hugely popular with the farm vote.

On the other, nuclear power is highly successful in France, and the present third- and future fourth-generation nuclear plants create negligible amounts of radioactive waste, or consume waste already stockpiled, meaning that in practical terms all the nuclear waste that will ever exist already is with us, and can’t logically be used as an objection to building more nuclear facilities.
Geof Burbidge
Chelsea, Quebec