5-23-2018, Forbes, Michael Shellenberger
- The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in 2016 estimated there was about 250,000 metric tons of solar panel waste in the world at the end of that year.
- IRENA projected that this amount could reach 78 million metric ton by 2050
- The problem of solar panel disposal “will explode with full force in two or three decades and wreck the environment” because it “is a huge amount of waste and they are not easy to recycle
- Researchers with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) undertook a study for U.S. solar-owning utilities to plan for end-of-life and concluded that solar panel “disposal in “regular landfills is not recommended in case modules break and toxic materials leach into the soil” and so “disposal is potentially a major issue”
- “Contrary to previous assumptions, pollutants such as lead or carcinogenic cadmium can be almost completely washed out of the fragments of solar modules over a period of several months, for example by rainwater”.
- Recycling costs more than the economic value of the materials recovered, which is why most solar panels end up in landfills
- Dangers and hazards of toxins in photovoltaic modules appear particularly large in countries where there are no orderly waste management systems