The World is Facing a Solar Panel Waste Problem

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9 hours ago, Ward Smith said:

I'm curious about this. Becquerel counts measure emission, but not absorbtion. You make it sound like the steel has accumulated a bunch of rads (absorbtion). Or were they just exposed to radon as a trace gas cruising by on the way someplace else? 

The plug (PIG) they send down the pipeline scraps out the scale - the radioactivity is in the scale that accumulates / embeds on the plug face and walls . The source is mainly Lead 208 which has decayed from Radon and precipitates out as a metal component of the scale. 


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Trump like with Covid-19 is fully prepared to solve solar panel waste. Just don’t count it. 

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In February, non-profit EU solar panel recycling body PV Cycle announced it had collected 5,000 tons of modules in France, of which 94.7% could be recycled. 


“Ninety-five per cent is an exceptional recycling figure, especially for a multi-component product,” PV Cycle communications manager Bertrand Lempkowicz told pv magazine France. “Only soda cans can claim to do better but they don’t reach 100% either. A washing machine doesn’t come close to 70% recycling, everyone has one but nobody cares.”

What about the 5.3% of solar panel components that is not recycled?

“The non-recycled materials are mainly dust trapped in the filters after shredding,” said Lempkowicz. “They don’t count [as part of a solar panel], but these filters will also be recycled. The dust can also be incinerated or used as a substitute for sand in construction, since glass, silicon and silicone are all derived from sand.

“The backsheet – the vinyl sheet on the back of the panel used to insulate the components – will be energy recovered. The EVA [ethyl vinyl acetate] or tedlar used [in backsheets] could be used as a binder for paint but this would require cleaning. It is actually more environmentally friendly to incinerate it (in a filtered incinerator) than to use tons of water to clean it” – thus demonstrating the cross-sectoral nature of solar module recycling.

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