Solar PV panel waste will not become a significant problem

reneweconomy.com.au
3 min read
fairly difficult
Managing solar PV modules at end of life will not be a limitation on the replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy. Here's why.
Solar PV is being installed faster than everything else put together (fossil, nuclear, and other renewables not counting wind) on the rooftops of homes and businesses, and in large-scale ground mounted arrays.

Since the price of PV continues to fall, and since PV is essentially unconstrained, solar PV will probably grow to dominate not just electricity production but also all forms of energy production through the electrification of transport, heating and industry.

But what happens to the solar panels at the end of life? Will solar PV waste become a major problem?

To understand the scale of the potential problem, let us assume that PV goes to the limit. Suppose that all energy is produced using solar PV and wind.

This entails complete renewable electrification of transport, heating and industry, and results in a reduction in Australian greenhouse emissions of 85%.

Complete displacement of all oil, gas and coal by PV and wind requires approximately a tripling of electricity production. So, we're looking at a situation where 750 terawatt-hours per year of PV and wind electricity is needed.

Silicon solar cell panels comprise 95% of the world solar market and will approach 24% efficiency by 2030.

Let us assume that rooftop PV, utility PV and windfarms each provide one third of this…
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