The elephant in the room: Can the solar industry go circular?

“Solar power systems are generally said to last about 25 to 30 years. But here’s a less widely known fact: Although their power capacities may dip by about 20 per cent over the course of a quarter-century, there is still potential to deploy them in regions starved of electricity supply, where they can be used for another 10 to 20 years.

This extension of their useful lives has implications for a world staring at a ticking solar time bomb.

Solar uptake is growing amid the need for zero-emission energy sources to fight climate change, but the flip side of the coin is an impending flood of decommissioned panels in the coming years, Eco-Business reported recently.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, the world could be saddled with 78 million tonnes of solar panel waste by 2050—more than 8,500 times the weight of the Eiffel tower in Paris. The problem is especially acute in Asia, where solar markets are expanding faster than anywhere in the world.

Like other industries, solar needs to go circular.”
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Ha, Tim. Eco Business 9 March 2020.