Most would agree that solar cells fabricated from silicon ingots that were produced with electricity generated primarily by hydroelectric power would be "as good as it gets" from a life cycle standpoint. Thinking about such things as mercury and carbon emissions, that is.
The worst possible source for silicon solar panels would likely be from an SPV supply chain that begins with Chinese coal-fired electricity.
Suntech (NYSE: STP) has come from nowhere to become the third-ranked U.S. supplier in a forthcoming analysis of how the domestic sector fared in 2007, Efird said in an interview. That would put the Chinese outfit just behind Silicon Valley upstart SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) and Japanese stalwart Sharp Electronics.
"We were the first Chinese manufacturer to start selling in the United States," said Efird, who is in the process of moving to the Bay area. "And we've achieved our two primary goals in the first 12 months of operations."
We're listening Suntech. Tell us, won't you please, how you are urging the Chinese government to sign onto the post-Bali deliberations and to impose pollution controls and efficiency boosting design changes on the coal fired utilities that supply your ingot casting plants, and slicers, and so forth.
Actually that wasn't fair, because if you look at the list of solar cell component makers they're all over the map. Nonetheless, not all solar cells are created equal; and; we think California regulators, offering taxpayer-funded incentives for solar installs, ought to take supply chain life cycle impacts into consideration. That and, you know, that whole "Green Jobs" thing that half the US state governors are focused on.