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Letter: Solar power is not the clean, green energy as promoted

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In view of the current interest in solar panel installations brought about by the number of planning applications for "solar farms" in South Shropshire, I thought that a few disturbing facts would make interesting reading.

The manufacture of solar panels or photovoltaic (PV) cells, to give them their correct name, consumes substantial amounts of energy and produces waste water and hazardous by-products which are released into the atmosphere during the process. Chemicals that could be released are: Tetrafluoromethane (regarded as the most persistent of greenhouse gasses), solvents and volatile organic compounds i.e. fluoride nitrite, sulphur dioxide (toxic to humans), carbon dioxide (the greenhouse gas) and isopropanol.

A major point of concern in the manufacture of solar panels is the amount of silver left over which is considered a dangerous waste. According to G J M Phylisen, a leading authority on this subject, a contribution of five per cent of the current world electricity production would require about 50 per cent of current silver production.

An increase in production of cells would release huge amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere before the benefit of the "cleaner" electricity generated is felt.

The overwhelming majority of PV cells are manufactured in China which uses coal-fired power stations for the production of almost all of its energy requirement. These panels are then shipped around the world via container ships and maritime transport is another huge contributor to global warming.

This country does not produce sufficient food for its own needs and proposals to transform productive farmland into industrial parks covered in glass panels strike me as madness.

It would behove the Government to go further in its policy on "green power" and insist that every new building erected, has an element of PV cell electrical generation included, using the latest and most efficient technologies.

Research in America has produced a transparent PV cell that can be coated onto glass and used in windows. At present it is the development stage but within a very short time it will be available commercially.

The potential for "clean energy" from this source is truly huge. I am no Luddite but I fear that the headlong rush for Solar Farms is driven purely by financial gains for the few.

Stewart McGuinness, Ludlow

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