IF Solar Panels Are So Clean, Why Do They Produce So Much Toxic Waste?


By Paul Homewood

From Forbes, the story of a looming environmental problem:


The last few years have seen growing concern over what happens to solar panels at the end of their life. Consider the following statements:

  • The problem of solar panel disposal “will explode with full force in two or three decades and wreck the environment” because it “is a huge amount of waste and they are not easy to recycle.”
  • “The reality is that there is a problem now, and it’s only going to get larger, expanding as rapidly as the PV industry expanded 10 years ago.”
  • “Contrary to previous assumptions, pollutants such as lead or carcinogenic cadmium can be almost completely washed out of the fragments of solar modules over a period of several months, for example by rainwater.”

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2 Comments on “IF Solar Panels Are So Clean, Why Do They Produce So Much Toxic Waste?”

  1. anniecrystal says:

    Same can be said for electric cars. They might not emit as much into the environment while working but if you take the whole life cycle, cradle to grave, they are very toxic in the materials used to manufacture and will also be difficult to dispose of. Its time everything made should be looked at in terms of whole life cycle rather than one small part of the whole process.


  2. Well, to be fair. Very few Solar panels contain Cadmium.
    Cadmium Telluride thin film panels were hyped for a short while but never really became popular.


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