Although some thin-film modules may contain hazardous material(namely Cadmium), the modules Trinity uses do not contain any hazardous substances and are primarly made from crystalline silicon material. According to a study completed by Brookhaven National Lab and the Electric Power Research Institute, installed silicon-based cells (which Trinity uses) pose minimal risks to human health or the environment. See http://mydocs.epri.com/docs/public/000000000001000095.pdf for more details.
Any shading of your system will limit the amount of electricity it will produce. Ideally, one should ensure no parts of the system will be shaded between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm for the entire year. According to NREL (http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy09osti/46001.pdf), “For a single-string grid-tied PV system, a shadow can represent a reduction in power over 30 times its physical size.” This may not, however, always be possible. As such, Trinity can estimate how much production loss you may have if some shading is left on your system.
Over time, every electrical device in use today becomes less efficient in its ability to perform the work it was designed to do. The same is true of solar modules. According to testing performed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, owners of solar electric systems should expect around a 0.5% degradation rate. See “Comparison of Degradation Rates of Individual Modules Held at Maximum Power” for the test results.
The EPA provides a calculator to estimate how much your solar system will benefit the environment. To calculate carbon equivalencies (such as the number of trees planted or cars removed from the road), enter the expected energy production from the system into the following calculator and scroll to the bottom for the results. To use the calculator, visit http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/calculator.html.