According to the US Department of Energy, the lifespan of a solar panel will typically span 20 to 30 years depending on the environment where the panels are installed. This number is reduced when you consider solar panels that live in areas that experience dust or snow storms regularly.
China faces this dilemma, plus an even more significant issue. Many of its solar panels are installed in remote areas, away from sophisticated recycling plants that may be equipped to handle large numbers of solar panels.
That means a massive amount of money will be needed to transport aging solar panels from the site of installation to the recycling center.
The outlook painted by Tian Min, a general manager of Nanjing Fangrun Materials, doesn’t look pleasant.
“It will explode with full force in two or three decades and wreck the environment if the estimate is correct,” Tian says. “This is a huge amount of waste, and they are not easy to recycle.”
What type of impact can solar panels have on the environment?
When a large solar panel facility is installed, there are concerns about land degradation and the loss of habitat. The amount of land needed for a solar panel installation depends on the needs of the area, the technology used, and the intensity of the equipment.