Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Old Solar Panels Causing An Environmental Crisis In China

Thousands of ageing solar panels sited throughout China could trigger an environmental crisis over the next two decades, according to industry experts. China has more solar power plants than any other country, operating roughly twice as many solar panels as the U.S. with no plans on how to dispose of the old panels that break down. “It will explode with full force in two or three decades and wreck the environment, if the estimate is correct,” Tian Min, general manager of a Chinese recycling company, told The South China Morning Post. “This is a huge amount of waste and they are not easy to recycle.” There could be 20 million metric tons of solar panel waste, or 2,000 times the weight of the Eiffel Tower, by 2050 according to Lu Fang, the secretary general of solar power at the China Renewable Energy Society. Solar panels use hazardous materials, like sulfuric acid and phosphine gas, in the manufacturing process that makes them hard to recycle. Solar panels also have relatively short operational lifespans and can’t be stored in a landfill without protections against contamination. Solar panels create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of electricity generated than nuclear power plants, according to research by the green group Environmental Progress. Solar panels use heavy metals, including lead, chromium and cadmium, which can harm the environment. The hazards of nuclear waste are well known and can be planned for, but very little has been done to mitigate solar waste issues...more

No comments: