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Will the Gigafactory really be "Sustainable" ?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by tander, Jun 23, 2015.

  1. tander

    tander Member

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    #1 tander, Jun 23, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2015
    A buddy of mine just finished his MBA with a focus on "Sustainability", I get a kick out it because to me the term is just the current buzzword for good long-term business practices, same as they have always been. As a Tesla investor and general EV/solar/earth-loving sustainability fan I'm excited to finally see the growth of investment in the these areas, it feels good to hear of the idea of Gigafactories that will recycle their own batteries being built rather than coal plants or oil rigs. However, I wonder if Rockefeller building his empire 100+ years ago sounded a bit like Musk right now. So my question is are all these batteries and solar panels going to be truly "sustainable" or could they eventually start causing new environmental problems from some seemingly inconsequential by-product that is too inconvenient to recycle or mountains of obsolete solar panels piling up in fifty years? It would be cool if we could solve this problem created by past generations and make this leap in technology AND do it without creating new ones?
     
  2. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    The only 'absolute' way to not cause 'problems' is to give up our modern life-style; The REAL question to ask is will Solar & Batteries be better than our current fossil fuel addiction... that answer is more than obvious.
     
  3. Evbwcaer

    Evbwcaer Member

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    Most manufacturers of solar offer performance warranties of at least 80% after 25 years, so even if a better/cheaper technology comes along, I bet that current panels would be sold and used for cheap. It might be the case that rooftop solar on homes will go for the more efficient panels because of limited roof space, but if you were building a solar farm with almost unlimited space, you would just buy the cheapest option per watt. I don't see panels being junked hastily.....but you never know.

    The other thing about solar panels is what it is in them. There is a lot of glass and aluminum, both recyclable and both not harmful. I am not sure about the lesser ingredients like cadmium telluride and copper selenide.

    I like your thinking and I hope we don't have an ocean full of junk solar panels or a landfill full of lithium ions someday.
     
  4. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    You're confusing thin film with crystalline silicon; Si Panels are >90% of the market and have an incredibly simply construction. Crystinalline silicon (used in sand) doped with Boron (used in soap) and Phosphorous (used in fire works). Pretty benign stuff...

    PN-junction.png
     
  5. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Active Member

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    #5 ItsNotAboutTheMoney, Jun 23, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2015
    Recycling has started, but it won't be for a few years that it'll be a major issue. Recycling needs economiss of scale, so when there'll be a lot of dead panels available is when you'll see it take off.

    Sustainable? Maybe not, but it'll be a huge step in the right direction, as it'll be making batteries, for cars that don't need fossil fuels, and for batteries that can allow more use of renewable generation.

    The most important thing is that renewables are comfortably net energy positive and that provides the esse tial basis for sustainability, so anything that helps renewables is a step in the right direction.
     
  6. tander

    tander Member

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    Agreed.

    - - - Updated - - -

    That's true if you want an industrial sized solution to an industrial sized problem/opportunity, but it sure would be cool if they could make the Gigafactories totally "sustainable".
     
  7. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Active Member

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    The aim will be to do that, and that's because Elon Musk and JB Straubel are selling solar with SolarCity. But don't expect them to use renewables until it's economical (which thanks to its Nevada location it should be relatively early) because Elon Musk will not let anything get in the way of success.
     
  8. tander

    tander Member

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    Just as a follow up to answer my own question I did some youtube research and at least as the battery packs stand for now (they could change I suppose), they are 100% recycle-able and that is the plan for the giga factory. Not sure about the solar panels but it would be smart if they could do the same with them as well.
     

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