I recently read an article by Maddie Stone titled, “Solar Panels Are Starting To Die. What Will We Do With The Megatons Of Toxic Trash?” There are so many flaws with this article I almost don’t know where to start, but here we go…
First, her subheading is: “most solar manufacturers claim their panels will last for about 25 years.” False! There are about five major solar panel manufacturers that produce under a lot of brand names. These are the top tier panels that most people use for their homes and businesses. (Just to clarify, we are not talking about hobby panels that you grab off the shelf at hardware and camping stores.) These five manufacturers make panels that are warrantied and guaranteed for 25 years, but realistically, they last decades longer. The difference is that they are not producing a full capacity anymore due to normal lifetime degradation. When they lose less than 1% production of production efficiency per year, that’s certainly nothing to throw away.
Second, she says we all need to have a plan for dealing with the “bulky sheets of electronic waste”. Almost all of the components of a solar panel are recyclable. This article simply assumes that most panel owners won’t bother to do so. The logic here is that we shouldn’t reduce our dependency on coal and switch to solar, only because people won’t be responsible with a much more efficient piece of technology that will last for 50 to 60 years.
So should we forego the benefit of renewable energy, assuming some may not handle it responsibly? Or do we take advantage of solar and mandate that solar panels are recycled appropriately? Additionally, none this takes into account the vast amount of toxic waste, metal, machine parts, etc. that currently goes into the upkeep of coal plants. Consider the pollution from the daily production of coal power and the absolute toxic mess that is created when a coal plant is retired and there is no comparison.. Everything has waste. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that solar creates more waste than the alternative.
Third, the article says that taxpayer dollars are helping too much with solar power. Probably the most important thing to note is that it’s your own tax dollars that help you own your system just as it’s your tax dollars that go toward coal. (That you don’t own by the way.) And it’s a huge problem that we don’t talk about the large tax investment and federal funding that support the production of coal power just so you can afford it. The electric company just want you to forget that you’re paying for it twice. I can only imagine how high the electric bills would be if the tax breaks and subsidies weren’t provided year after year. All of that investment and the heavily discounted price is still higher than solar power.
As you come across information putting a negative light on renewable energy options, I just ask that you keep things in perspective. Often, they are only using half truths to post shocking headlines in order to help the fat cats at the power companies keep you fearful of leaving them and reducing their profits.
Remember that there is a better way, and renewables aren’t going anywhere.