The Law Of Unintended Consequences At Work

One of the problems with the idea of ridding ourselves from fossil fuels is that we really haven’t perfected the alternatives. Our economy runs on fossil fuels, and until we develop a safe, clean, inexpensive, efficient, and reliable alternative, our economy will continue to depend on fossil fuel. In 2014, I posted a story explaining what happened when Spain attempted to switch over to green energy. As far as I know, the only country in the world that has successfully made the switch to green energy is Iceland. They have been able to generate large amounts of electricity because of the volcanoes the island sits on. Recently scientists have discovered that there is a serious down side to solar energy (other than the birds that have been fried while flying over solar panels).

On March 1st, The Daily Caller reported that the construction of solar panels generates Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3).

The article reports:

Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) is a key chemical agent used to manufacture photovoltaic cells for solar panels, suggesting government subsidies and tax credits for solar panels may be a driving factor behind the 1,057 percent in NF3 over the last 25 years. In comparison, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions only rose by about 5 percent during the same time period.

NF3 emissions have rapidly increased in Asia as well due to its rapidly growing solar panel market, and researchers think that many nations are under-reporting their NF3 emissions by roughly a factor of 4.5.

NF3 emissions are 17,200 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas over a 100 year time period.

NF3 is also used in the production of semiconductors and LCD flat screens.

The article also points out:

The 1,057 percent increase in US annual emissions of NF3 from 1990 to 2015 compares to an increase of 5.6 percent in carbon dioxide emissions, according to EPA data in a recently-published draft of a new report

There is, however, some good news. The study concluded that the more modern solar panels will emit less NF3 and will have a positive impact on the environment. This conclusion was reached by considering the amount of CO2 that would not be released when the solar panels were used. After some adjusting of the numbers, solar panels could be shown to have a positive impact on the environment. It might be a good idea to keep in mind at this point that a good statistician can make any group of numbers say anything he wants them to say.