Solar Panels Produce Tons of Toxic Waste—Literally
A closer look at solar panels opens a wide array of questions that need answers.
Bill Wirtz Monday, November 18, 2019
A Popular Choice
Solar panels have been heralded as the alternative to fossil fuels for decades. Most readers have likely seen exciting headlines claiming we could power the world's energy demands multiple times were we simply to cover the Sahara Desert with a solar farm the size of China. The fact that such endeavors would be unsustainable due to their size and the sheer amount of maintenance required or that the necessary infrastructure to bring this energy all around the world is simply unimaginable is irrelevant to those who dream of a solar future.
That's fine; we're all dreamers in one way or another. This fantasy has grasped many voters, however, and politicians are all too keen to jump on the gravy train of alternative energy. Solar panels are subsidized to an enormous extent, as are solar farms, be they public or private. In the age of emissions trading and international climate conferences, nothing is applauded more than showing off some big investments into harvesting the sun as an electricity supplier.
Read the entire Article HERE
The Downside of Solar Energy
By Dustin Mulvaney, Morgan D. Bazilian December 1, 2019
The solar economy continues its dramatic growth, with over a half-terawatt already installed around the world generating clean electricity. But what happens to photovoltaic (PV) modules at the end of their useful life? With lifespans measured in decades, PV-waste disposal may seem to be an issue for the distant future. Yet, the industry ships millions of tons every year, and that number will continue to rise as the industry grows. Total e-waste—including computers, televisions, and mobile phones—is around 45 million metric tons annually.
By comparison, PV-waste in 2050 will be twice that figure. Motivated by concerns about exposure to toxic materials, increased disposal costs and overcapacity at landfills managed by underfunded local governments, researchers are exploring global solar waste management solutions based on concepts like the circular economy.
Full article HERE
Photovoltaic Waste Management and Implementing Extended Producer Responsibility in the Solar Industry in California
Lee-Tan Lu San Jose State University
Electronic waste issues impact humans and the environment, primarily because most
industrial designs have not considered the impact of products when they reach their endof-life (EOL) stage. This study focuses on photovoltaic (PV) modules that are widely
installed in California residential properties. While PV modules do not generate waste
while operating, they will become waste at the end of their expected lifespan of 25 to 40
years. Thus, it is important to identify PV waste management strategies before the
materials in the modules become a discard problem.
View this report here
More to Come