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Title:Solar panels - an eco-disaster waiting to happen?
Date:6/3/2023 7:01:04 PM

While they are being promoted around the world as a crucial weapon in reducing carbon emissions, solar panels only have a lifespan of up to 25 years.

Experts say billions of panels will eventually all need to be disposed of and replaced.

"The world has installed more than one terawatt of solar capacity. Ordinary solar panels have a capacity of about 400W, so if you count both rooftops and solar farms, there could be as many as 2.5 billion solar panels.," says Dr Rong Deng, an expert in solar panel recycling at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

According to the British government, there are tens of millions of solar panels in the UK. But the specialist infrastructure to scrap and recycle them is lacking.

Energy experts are calling for urgent government action to prevent a looming global environmental disaster.

"It's going to be a waste mountain by 2050, unless we get recycling chains going now," says Ute Collier, deputy director of the International Renewable Energy Agency.

"We're producing more and more solar panels - which is great - but how are we going to deal with the waste?" she asks.

It is hoped a major step will be taken at the end of June, when the world's first factory dedicated to fully recycling solar panels officially opens in France.

ROSI, the specialist solar recycling company which owns the facility, in the Alpine city of Grenoble, hopes eventually to be able to extract and re-use 99% of a unit's components.

As well as recycling the glass fronts and aluminium frames, the new factory can recover nearly all of the precious materials contained within the panels, such as silver and copper, which are typically some of the hardest materials to extract.

These rare materials can subsequently be recycled and reused to make new, more powerful, solar units.

Conventional methods of recycling solar panels recover most of the aluminium and glass - but ROSI says...

Date Added:6/4/2023 6:38:29 AM