by D. Flanakin, Sep 19, 2020 in WUWT
They also heat the planet, blanket wildlife habitats and cause other ecological damage
The problem of solar panel waste is now becoming evident. As environmental journalist Emily Folk admits in Renewable Energy Magazine, “when talking about renewable energy, the topic of waste does not often appear.” She attributes this to the supposed “pressures of climate change” and alleged “urgency to find alternative energy sources,” saying people may thus be hesitant to discuss “possible negative impacts of renewable energy.”
Ms. Folk admits that sustainability requires proper e-waste management. Yet she laments, “Solar presents a particular problem. There is growing evidence that broken panels release toxic pollutants … [and] increasing concern regarding what happens with these materials when they are no longer viable, especially since they are difficult to recycle.”
This is the likely reason that (except in Washington state), there are no U.S. mandates for solar recycling. A recent article in Grist reports that most used solar panels are shipped to developing countries that have little electricity and weak environmental protections, to be reused or landfilled.
The near-total absence of end-of-life procedures for solar panels is likely a byproduct of the belief (and repeated, unsupported assertion) that renewable energy is “clean” and “green.” Indeed, Mississippi Sierra Club state director Louie Miller recently claimed that unlike fossil fuels and nuclear energy, “Sunshine is a free fuel.” Well, sunshine is certainly free and clean. However, there is a monumental caveat.
Harnessing sunshine (and wind) to serve humanity is not free – or clean, green, renewable or sustainable.