A Colorado solar-panel maker, which spent $70 million of a $400 million federal loan guarantee from the Energy Department before going bankrupt last year, is now being ordered to clean up hazardous waste at four storage facilities filled with leftover panels.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said Abound Solar is storing thousands of “unsellable” solar panels and gallons of toxic liquids at sites in Colorado, the Denver Post reports.See? Massachusetts isn't the only state with "green" companies pissing away federal dollars! Colorado has them too! At least our companies aren't leaving vats of toxic chemicals sitting around in warehouses, though. Ours just take lots of state dollars along with the federal dollars before declaring bankruptcy. Apparently the governor of Colorado is more apprehensive about throwing good money after bad when it comes to questionable energy sources.
It will be interesting to see just how the state of Colorado gets money from Abound. They're bankrupt, so theoretically they have no assets to liquidate; they claim to have been put out of business by cheap Chinese competition - yet had no trouble leaving pallets of barrels full of cadmium waste sitting in warehouses. Something like half of the panels are "not reliable", which tends to make one question the manufacturing process that would result in such a large amount of waste and only resulting in less than 50% usable energy. Abound may very well have been doing everything perfectly; however it sounds like the process itself is deeply flawed.
There's another thing to consider, too. Here we are talking about solar power - considered by most people to be a very clean, completely renewable energy source. Yet no one mentions the underside of solar power - the barrels of chemicals needed to treat the solar panels in order to collect the energy. If a coal plant left barrels of toxic waste sitting in a warehouse it would be national news, complete with ZOMG ENVIRO-CATASTROPHE banner headlines. But a solar company? Pshaw - the energy is "clean". It's a lot like the batteries in hybrid cars. Everyone loves the Prius because it's a hybrid and gets marginally better gas mileage than a comparably sized car. No one thinks about what happens when those batteries finally die - and die they will.
Everything - solar, electric, wind - comes with a price, and coal and fossil fuel power aren't always the worst choices...
That is all.
Another dispatch from...
(image courtesy of Robb Allen)