Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

What happens when solar panels wear out?

Reprinted from Grist at What happens when solar panels wear out? | Grist

What happens when solar panels wear out?

The majority end up in landfills. Advocates say we can do better.

In 2019, the nonprofit Michigan Energy Options had just put up a solar farm in the city of East Lansing — in a dump.

“It was a closed dump,” said John Kinch, the solar company’s executive director. “There was grass and some flowers and weeds growing there. “

As part of the project, Kinch and his colleagues restored the land around the newly installed panels.

“We took all the junky grasses and things that were not native, got rid of it all and planted all native prairie and wildflower species to Michigan,” he said. “It’s a beautiful sight right now.”

But one day, Kinch was out there admiring the work, when a thought entered his mind: “Holy cow, when we’re done with this project, am I going to remove a thousand solar panels from a landfill and go put them underground in a landfill somewhere else?”

The world is seeing a huge push for solar power. But what happens when those panels wear out?

About 12 years ago, a woman named Annick Anctil was working at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. She was researching the environmental impact of solar, and she became interested in making this renewable energy more sustainable.

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