Is it a shortcut for the evolution of solar energy

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Fishing for "tellurium" under the sea: will it be a shortcut to the evolution of solar energy

Abstract: compared with the oil or coal industry, the impact of solar panel related mining may be minimal, but it is not without impact. As renewable energy technologies become more and more important, we may have to adjust our expectations to take this into account

scientists have just discovered a large amount of tellurium, a rare metal that is a key element in the development of cutting-edge solar technology. As an expert in the field of solar energy, I should be happy. But the problem is: the tellurium mine found this time is located on the seabed, where it has not been disturbed by humans

people often idealize that solar energy is a perfect clean energy. Sunlight is directly converted into electricity, without emissions, oil leakage or pollution, and completely clean. However, this view ignores the complex production process of solar panels

solar power generation is indeed clean and pollution-free, but some materials needed to produce solar power generation equipment are toxic or rare. Take the technology of cadmium telluride thin-film solar cells, which requires the use of toxic cadmium and rare telluride

cadmium telluride thin film belongs to the second generation "thin film" solar cell technology, and its light absorption capacity is far better than that of crystalline silicon used in most solar cells at present, so the absorption layer does not need to be as thick as it is now. The optical absorptivity of a cadmium telluride film only one thousandth of a millimeter thick can reach about 90%. Compared with crystalline silicon films, cadmium telluride films are cheap, easy to install, and use less materials

therefore, cadmium telluride film has become the first film technology to complete the leap from laboratory research to mass production. At present, cadmium telluride solar cell modules account for about 5% of the global solar energy facilities, and from a certain point of view, their power generation cost is lower than that of crystalline silicon technology

if the high-efficiency photovoltaic panel is made of precious metal, does the composite sample deform along the ES curve until the maintenance error of the testing machine reaches s points

but the fatal key of cadmium telluride film lies in tellurium itself, which is one of the rarest metals on earth. We must think twice about whether a technology based on such a rare metal is worth developing on a large scale

there have always been divergent views on this issue. The reserve of tellurium is a big problem, but the objection is that it is rare because no one has actively sought new tellurium reserves. After all, platinum and gold are similar rare metals, but the demand for jewelry and catalytic converters (the main use of platinum) makes us actually always get enough platinum and gold, and the load can't rise any more

seamounts near the northwest coast of Africa: tropical seamounts were found to contain high-purity tellurium. (image source: googleearth)

the discovery of a large number of tellurium deposits in the Atlantic undersea mountains seems to prove that demand will drive the development of exploration. According to British scientists involved in the marinee tech project, which discovered tellurium ore, the purity of tellurium ore found this time is particularly high. Most tellurium is a by-product of copper mining, so the output is relatively low, and the purity of tellurium content in seabed mineral samples this time is 50000 times higher than that on land

mining seabed mineral resources will be very difficult and pose a great threat to the environment. The top of the submarine mountain range where tellurium ore was found is 1000 meters below sea level, hundreds of miles away from the nearest land

even on dry land, mining is by no means a good thing for the environment. It not only forces local communities to migrate, destroys forests, and leaves huge scars on the earth, but also easily leads to groundwater pollution in any case. What about deep sea? Considering the technical challenges involved in this process and the primitive ecosystem of the seabed, I think most people can intuitively guess the possible destructive impact of deep-sea mining. It is no wonder that although the electronic wood-based panel universal testing machine produced by Jinan new era Testing Instrument Co., Ltd. in Papua New Guinea has wdw-0 to 5000kN electronic wood-based panel testing machine, and there are mining plans in the coastal areas of neiya and other places, they have not been really implemented. In fact, there is no indication that we can mine tellurium at such a deep seabed in the near future

however, the existence of such resources, or the existence of products such as wind turbines and electric vehicle batteries that rely on rare materials or high-risk industrial processes, raises an interesting question: These are useful low-carbon technologies, but do they also need to abide by environmental ethics

how to treat the pollution in the production process of photovoltaic modules

it is often believed that people engaged in renewable energy related work are leftists who wear sandals and are keen on environmental protection, but this is not the case. After all, the renewable energy industry is now large, and its ultimate goal is to replace fossil fuels, so we have reason to worry that this expansion may be accompanied by lax regulations

we know that solar energy is fundamentally good, but can we really just look at the results without looking at the process? Or to put it bluntly: if the premise of large-scale production of solar panels is to carry out mining and drilling on a scale similar to that of the fossil fuel industry, the related hidden dangers will not be less. Can we tolerate this

in my opinion, the answer is undoubtedly yes, and we have no choice. After all, the large-scale use of solar energy can still erase our carbon emissions and help curb global warming and subsequent disasters

it is gratifying that with the growing maturity of the solar energy industry, its starting point is also higher and more environmentally friendly. For example, one of the costs of cadmium telluride power generation components is the recycling of materials. Rare resources such as tellurium can be recycled after the expiration of the battery board's life of more than 20 years (in contrast, in the process of fossil fuel power generation, raw materials turn into a raging flame and a large amount of carbon, which cannot be recycled)

compared with the oil or coal industry, the impact of solar panel related mining may be minimal, but not without impact. As renewable energy technologies become more and more important, we may have to adjust our expectations to take this into account

to some extent, mining for materials needed for solar or wind energy will cause damage, and some industrial production processes are not zero pollution. The lesser of the two evils may be the Faust contract we must accept. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect

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