Like most green energy it’s not very green;
Are we headed for a solar waste crisis?
June 21, 2017
By Jemin Desai and Mark Nelson
Last November, Japan’s Environment Ministry issued a stark warning: the amount of solar panel waste Japan produces every year will rise from 10,000 to 800,000 tons by 2040, and the nation has no plan for safely disposing of it.
Neither does California, a world leader in deploying solar panels. Only Europe requires solar panel makers to collect and dispose of solar waste at the end of their lives.
All of which raises the question: just how big of a problem is solar waste?
China will have the world’s worst problem with ageing solar panels in less than two decades, according to a recent industry estimate, as South China Morning Post reports.
Lu Fang, secretary general of the photovoltaics division in the China Renewable Energy Society, wrote in an article circulating on mainland social media this month that the country’s cumulative capacity of retired panels would reach up to 70 gigawatts (GW) by 2034.
That is three times the scale of the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydropower project, by power production.
By 2050 these waste panels would add up to 20 million tonnes, or 2,000 times the weight of the Eiffel Tower, according to Lu.
“In fair weather, prepare for foul,” she warned.
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