Clean energy? Some disturbing facts and figures – by The Green Asia Group

Read - March 2, 2012

Solar panels …

A factory in China must burn more than 40kg of coal to produce a solar panel – one metre by 1.5 metres.

China’s least efficient coal-fired power plant would generate 130 kilowatt-hours of electricity burning that amount – enough power to keep a 22 watt LED lightbulb beaming 12 hours a day for 30 years. A solar panel is designed to last just 20 years.

It is estimated it takes 10kg of polysilicon to produce a solar panel with a capacity of one kilowatt – just enough to generate the energy !o keep a fridge cool for a day.

Many consumers, as well as corporations, in developed countries are buying mainland made solar panels in the belief that using them will help slow the pace of global warming. Demand for solar panels has risen rapidly in the past few years, creating a US$100-billion a year market for panels and related industrial materials.

Five years ago, China’s mainland production of polysilicon – the key component of solar panels was negligible. Last year it churned out 4,000 tonnes. By 2011 it will reach a jaw-dropping 150,000 tonnes.

The chemical chlorine is used at almost every stage of the manufacturing process.

Extracting pure silicon is done by putting hydrogen, chlorine and raw silicon in an over and heating them up until they vaporized, and the process is repeated until the purest silicon is produced. 30 million tonnes of coal will be needed to keep the ovens of all the polysilicon plants hot to produce enough to cater for demand.

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Or Liquid natural gas?

Although natural gas burns 40% cleaner than coal in terms of GHG emissions, it is necessary to look at Lifecycle Emissions.

While taking into account the emissions released from extraction, the energy consumed during the freezing process (natural gas is frozen to -260 degrees to become a liquid), and the fossil fuels burned in the process of transporting LNG on giant tankers at least 3 football fields in length, using maritime diesel fuel, around the world, the greenhouse gas emissions from liquefied natural gas are similar to, if not equivalent to those of coal.

The processing cycle of LNG emits 40% more emissions than Natural Gas.

Read more about the dangers of LNG here

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