Solar market is growing with the every passing year because you can use that for many purposes. With this energy source you can generate heat, electricity and many other energy sources that help you to ease your life at lower cost. In United States solar market grew 76% in 2012 and still being used incalculably. It’s easy to use and creates energy independently that helps you to perform your tasks at home and businesses. In short solar energy is an absolute good energy source of future. But with all its benefits these are causing some dangers to the society.
Estimated Solar panel waste by the year 2050
According to the estimates made by the Environmental Ministry of Japan the country will produce about 800,000 tons of solar waste by the year 2040. This estimate was made in the year 2016 and after two years in 2018 still there are no solid plans to handle this waste in an appropriate manner.
In another analysis made by the International Renewable energy Agency it is stated that worldwide there is present about 250,000 metric tons of solid panel waste that will increased up to 78 million by the year 2050. This massive increase in the solid waste with the every passing year is going to be a major problem for the environment.
Solar panels were produces with the warranty of 25-30 years but due to the full-fledge growth in the solar industrial sector it reached to the limit of 5 years. Now the panels are made at the lower cost with the cheap quality that lasts for few years rather than 25-30 years. And after that they have to be disposed of which has no easy solution.
How solar panels are produced and their effects on environment?
There are many types of solar panels available in the market but basically they are made up with aluminum, glass, silver and elastic material name as ethylene-vinyl acetate. With this they can also have some dangerous cancer causing agents like chromium, cadmium and lead. These dangerous substances are packed in a glass covering and safe when they are functioning properly. But when these panels are damaged, break or not functioning (as wastage) then these dangerous substances can leak. In case of the cheap Chinese solar panels or others made with the bad quality risk level increase.
In case of the functional solar panels installed in the areas that are associated with the extreme weather like heavy rain, hails and hurricanes the installation is a threat to environment. In case of extreme weather conditions the glass may break and let the chemicals to percolate in the soil and water. In that case it is crucial to collect the damage panels and dispose them properly to save the environment from the hazardous cancer causing agents.
What to do with the solar panels when they stop working?
When the solar panels stop working due to damage or expiry then what to do with them is the biggest question.
Recycling of the solar panels sounds nice but right now economically it is not viable. Though, solar panels have some valuables inputs like silver and copper but the amount of such valuable input is not enough. The cost required to safely break down a damaged or expired solar panel into its constituent parts is high as compared to the end product. So right now we need to get some low cost recycling methods to make it economically feasible.
Shipping is a method that has been adopted by some developed countries to get rid of their non-functional or old product. Formerly China accepted about 70 percent of the world’s waste for recycling but few years age China refused to take recycling. After that western countries started shipping their old but not dead product to the South East Asian countries to get rid of the waste at lower prices. But the point is this is not a solution because the waste is just moving from one part of the world to other. In long run it is not a satisfactory solution.
Solution through policies
As the previous solution are not adequate so it is required to made some changes with the energy policy making. It is stated that the Washington State approve some legislation that is based on a proactive approach. According to this the solar panel manufacturers are required to recycling plan for their product.
Moreover, if we add some cost on solar panels then it may help in recycling. Recently Europe opens its own first solar panel recycling plant that may help to solve the problem.
A more promising technology that reduces the recycling cost and made it feasible may also help. In that way we can save the environment and the future generations from the dangers of that hazardous waste.