According to a just-released report from a California environmental group “Photovoltaics provide the most long-term, abundant, sustainable source of electricity generation available”.
The report, Clean and Green: Best Practices in Photovoltaics, reports on environmental as well as health and safety risks in manufacturing photovoltaic panels. It concludes that many manufacturers are outperforming standards set for emissions, are reducing water use and reusing water on their own initiatives, and are participating in voluntary international programs related to worker safety. By presenting best practices, the environmental group As You Sow hopes to further improve sustainaility aspects of PV manufacturing and assist purchasers to identify PV panels made to the highest standards. The best news is that the group concludes that, despite some concerns about the toxic substances used in PV panel manufacturing, PV still out performs all other energy sources from an environmental perspective.
The 30 page report is available at http://www.asyousow.org/publications/2012/AsYouSow_BestPracticesinPhotovoltaics_PressRelease_20120328.pdf