Solar panels are starting to die. What will we do with the megatons of toxic trash?
Solar panel technology will have an important role as a renewable energy source that can help prevent bigger waves of climate change. But one drawback already beginning to arise is the electronic waste produced when those panels exceed their productive lifespans. Meng Tao, a Fulton Schools professor of electrical, computer and energy engineering, says those used-up panels will someday become close to 80 million metric tons of solar energy tech waste. A vast recycling plan for solar panels is imperative to prevent having to dispose of them in already overloaded landfills, Tao says. He recently co-authored a research journal review paper about recycling of silicon solar modules. The article is also published in WIRED and Mother Jones.