Coal waste is a much bigger problem than solar waste, but clean energy opponents are often misleading us about the issue.
Here is a more detailed comparison of the two types of waste:
- Solar panels have a lifespan of 25-30 years, after which they need to be replaced.
- Most solar panels can be recycled, but the recycling rate is currently relatively low.
- The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates that by 2050, there will be 78 million tons of cumulative solar waste.
- Coal-fired power plants produce a large amount of waste, including fly ash, bottom ash, and scrubber sludge.
- Fly ash is the most abundant type of coal waste, and it is often disposed of in landfills.
- The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that in 2020, coal-fired power plants produced 1.1 billion tons of coal waste.
This means that by 2050, coal will be responsible for roughly 285 times more waste than solar.
It is important to note that solar recycling technology is improving all the time, and the recycling rate is expected to increase in the future. Additionally, there are a number of ways to reuse solar panels, such as using them to generate electricity for homes and businesses in developing countries.
Overall, solar waste is a relatively minor problem compared to coal waste. Clean energy opponents are misleading the public when they claim that “mountains of solar panels” will end up in landfills.