There are 3,455 panels over 16 sections with 216 panels in each section for the 1.25 megawatt solar farm near Williams Lake. (File photo)

LETTER: Langley letter writer concerned about impending solar panel waste problem

Local man questions how society will deal with solar panels at the end of their life spans

Dear Editor

Letter to Township mayor and council

Solar panel toxic waste is a societal burden for cleanup costs

Is the Green solution causing more pollution?

Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels cause a huge amount of toxic waste and they are unfeasible to recycle.

Clean Energy BC has for 25 years been promoting solar, wind, geothermal, run of river etc. but we have no program to clean up the end-of-life solar PV waste.

In B.C. we have three industrial size solar farms, and we have about 1300-plus individual (rooftop) supplemental solar systems connected to the grid.

BC Hydro used to subsidize those solar customers with power buy-back credits, but they are changing policy as they have an abundance of power and ‘Site C’ will be coming on stream.

Subsidies in B.C. for solar are in the form of:

• Solar Farms – guaranteed sale of power to BC Hydro. (Energy purchase agreements.) Also federal grants for some.

• Transferring the end of life cleanup costs to the taxpayers.

As those PV panels age, degrade and lose their effectiveness, (many are there now), what happens at the end of their 20- to 30-year life?

We continue to enthusiastically promote solar, but the reality is the disposal problem will only get worse as the industry expands.

• Recycling

Since recycling is difficult, expensive and unprofitable, the problem is being avoided. They’re probably cut-up and headed for our landfills.

The recycle process being touted involves burning plastics spewing more toxic pollution to the atmosphere. This seems worse than burning coal.

Europe has mandated recycling of PV Panels by grouping them in with electronics or E-Waste, not allowed in landfills.

For most countries, PV is classified as general waste, however a lot of the E-waste is sent off in containers to poor countries like Philippines, Ghana, India, etc.

• Toxic Waste

Study findings show ”Contrary to previous assumptions, pollutants such as lead or carcinogenic cadmium can be washed out of the fragments of solar modules in several months by rainwater.” Mega-tons of toxins leaching into our environment, our drinking water aquifers.

This industry is gobbling up rare earth metals at an enormous rate – cadmium, tellurium, indium, gallium, selenium, antimony, etc.

The manufacturers, sellers, installers, the whole PV industry gets a pass on end of life clean-up costs, except us taxpayers don’t.

Attempts to hold solar farm operators to account for decommissioning will likely fail as many continue to claim bankruptcy.

We climate march and pretend to care for the environment.

Roland Seguin, Langley

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