Archive for June, 2019


Trace metals present in solar cells and panels and waste generated by 2050 (IRENA, 2016)

Besides CO2 emissions during its life cycle, the solar cells and panels contain considerable amounts of trace elements that are not environmentally friendly. Indiscriminate  disposal of solar panels after its use ( the current panels life span is about 5 years. The different solar cells and panels that are currently in use and the trace elements present in them are listed below (IRENA, 2016).

c-Si pv panels:  8% Al, 0.1 % Ag, and Pb

CIGS panels: 10 % Cu, 28% In, 10 % Ga, 52 % Ce

Cd Te panels:  Ni, Zn, Sn  > 0.26%

Besides these elements, one of the challenges faced by recycling of solar panels is removal of ethylene vinyl-acetate (encapsulant material). The recovery potential of all elements here is very low and even if one exists it is highly energy intensive (emitting large amount of CO2).

Now, while solar pv generated electricity is christened as “renewable” and low carbon emitting energy source, what is renewable here and how is this source environmentally friendly. No doubt the Sun Energy is renewable and low carbon emitter but not the media that converts this energy to electricity.

By the year 2020, 78 million of pv panel waste will be generated globally.

Instead of finding a solution for escalating global temperature this renewable energy source is causing increase in atmospheric temperature.


Now the solar pv ball is turning in the opposite direction!!!

Worldwide there is already 250 000 metric tons of solar panel waste and by the year 2050 this will jump to 78 million tons. Don’t have to believe this figure. You can work out the figures by yourself or give it to any 10th standard kind as a summer project and he will come out with this figure. We don’t have to wait for the International Renewable Energy Agency to publish this numbers. It is written black and white on all the walls of the countries. The market is flooded with cheap panels that works only for 5 years or less. The damaged solar panels leach out toxic elements into the environment. There is no way to recycle this waste……if you want to recycle it then your GDP will touch rock bottom!!!! This has opened up new area of research ……how to dispose solar waste!! Next to plastic solar panels is going to be a big issue to countries blindly promoting solar pv by compromising fertile food producing lands.

In addition to the high energy consumption and considerable CO2 emissions during its life cycle (see my post on 2 Feb 2019) solar PV (panels) is not a viable option for climate change. In fact it is regarding the climate. Who is  getting benefitted?? Of course the small scale ancillary industries in Europe (especially in Germany to certain extent USA) that supply components to solar pv panels. The Chinese of course have found easy way to manufacture (made in China) cheap solar panel. Both go hand in hand. Who are the sufferers?? India and other countries that blindly believe that solar pv is a god sent energy to solve issues related to CO2 emissions and related climate change. Countries talk (including India) about big numbers…..nothing less than Giga Watts. Those who talk about Giga watts have no idea about these numbers.

In fact people are ignorant about geothermal power……or they pretend to be. Countries with high geothermal potential too fall for solar pv. Surprising. It is not cost, it is not about technology but then ……..what makes them fall for this renewable that creates more mess than other renewables like hydro and geothermal? Well it is the business or trade politics. If the solar panels are not manufactured, the ancillary industries will collapse……throwing out millions jobless…especially in the developed countries. These countries at government level push solar pv by giving a rosy picture. It looks perhaps, the entire climate change meetings by countries have one common agenda……use solar to combat climate change. Japan, the country where climate change talks had started (Kyoto Protocol), recently warned that the country will produce 800,000 tons of solar waste by 2040, and it can’t yet handle those volumes.