We have to face it: The West has done our planet no favor by moving industrial production and manufacturing to China. Trump is right, many of factories and industries are better back home, even if it means paying a bit more for products.
Not only does the China use the oceans as a global dump for much of its plastic trash, the country now is gearing up to turn parts of the planet into a toxic solar panel waste dump.
According to French science magazine Futura here, we are looking at a “solar panel time bomb”.
Futura describes how China is installing “gigantic” solar panel farms in remote places like Tibet and how 30 years from now the country will have “mountains of solar panels reaching their end of their lives and that nothing is planned for their collection and recycling.”
20 million TONNES of solar panel waste
According to Futura, China met its 2020 solar energy installation target three years in advance and that its capacity will grown tenfold by 2040 – growing from 77 GW of installed rated capacity to 738 GW. This all means that China ultimately will pile up to 20 million tonnes of waste by 2050, which will be more than the United States, Japan and Germany combined.
Our solar industry is a real time bomb.”
While Europe has already regulations in place for handling solar panels at the end of their lifetimes, China so far has no plan whatsoever in place to handle scrap panel problem, Futura reports.
Most manufacturers focus on developing better panels and do not care about the fate of their products.”
Futura also reports on the material composition of solar panels and notes that they contain toxic substances such as bromine, cadmium and lead, which are “difficult to separate and eliminate.”
“Their treatment requires an expensive process and the use of polluting chemicals.”
That’s the how Europe sees it. But for China, such annoyances such as toxic materials simply get ignored and are merely discarded into the landscape or oceans.
And because China’s gigantic solar installations are often located in very poor and remote areas, such as the Tengger Desert, Tibet or Inner Mongolia, it’s unlikely they will be transported to the few recycling plants in the industrial provinces of the Pacific coast. It’s imply not economical.
Futura reports that once panels near the end of their lifetime, one idea is to send the old Chinese panels to Middle East regions, where ultimately they will be simply discarded and end up littering and poisoning the entire landscape.