According to a report completed by Environmental Progress, we may have a looming problem on our hands if we don’t find a cost-effective and environmentally safe solution to the problem of recycling old solar panels.
Solar panels require lead, chromium and cadmium and use harsh chemicals like sodium hydroxide and hydrofluoric acid in their production, and many of these components are considered to be toxic waste.
The report also suggests that what has happened in Japan, where their government began providing a “feed-in” tariff in 2012 that incentivized more energy from renewable sources, should be a warning for us.
Sound familiar? The same scenario is starting to crop up across North America.
Meanwhile, Japan predicts solar panel waste will be at 10K tons by 2020 which Toshiba Environmental Solutions says would take 19 years to process based on the current capacity to recycle only 44 tons of solar panels per month.
Recycling solar panels isn’t very profitable since the demand for dismantled materials is low and the labour required, is expensive.
Most solar panels last about 20 to 30 years and installing them residentially is a relatively new process that regular households in North America have already gone through with or are thinking about.
But what’s not being thought about is how to mitigate the toxic landslide that will be upon us once these panels start to conk out.
These “green” solutions aren’t really very green at all and since it’s a highly subsidized industry encouraged by the government, they’re not likely to tell us about these potential problems, are they?
We shouldn’t be against viable ways to clean up real pollution, especially those that don’t require taxpayer funds and don’t require us to demonize the oil and gas industry.
When you look closer, you'll often find there’s another side to the story they’re not telling us about.