Pottsville’s Green New Deal to buy more than 4,000 solar panels sounds like a good environmental decision.
After all, you’ve been led to believe solar power is a clean, renewable resource.
But you don’t hear that narrative coming from members of the Pottsville Area School District’s board of directors. This is about money green, not eco-green.
One of the many things that Pottsville Area School District failed to consider — or just totally ignored — before entering us into a hastily arranged agreement to finance more than $4 million worth of solar panels is how much of a burden these will be in the future.
Specifically, we’re talking about e-waste. No one wants it, it’s expensive to get rid of, and it’s dangerous to the environment.
Solar Panel E-Waste
Pottsville isn’t the first school district to enter into a short-sighted agreement to finance solar panels. And it probably won’t be the last. They’re subsidized by the government and so is the energy they’re producing … for now.
That’s created a massive boom for the solar panel industry. Now, everyone blinded by the green glare of all those solar panels along with a salesman’s promise that you need to spend money to make money, are buying these energy makers as fast as they can make them.
But that’s a problem now and it’s going to be an even bigger problem in the future.
The problem is known as e-waste, or electronic waste.
Think of how difficult it is to get rid of a television these days. Not only is it hard to find someone to take a broken TV off your hands, when you do it’s expensive.
OK, now multiply that by a lot and you have one of many problems solar panels pose now and in the future. Now, multiply that by more than 4,000 because that’s how many headaches the future taxpayers of Pottsville will face when they try to dump these old solar panels.
Solar Waste vs. Nuclear Waste
According to a report from Environmental Progress, when comparing solar panels to nuclear energy (an often controversial means of generating electricity), it’s the solar panels that are far more dangerous to the planet.
To generate one unit of electricity, a solar panel creates 300 times the amount of waste as a nuclear power plant.
You read that right: the supposedly green option, the solar panel, is an environmental burden.
The Environmental Progress report we’re referencing cites the growing problem of solar panel e-waste in Japan.
To recycle all the solar panels Japan uses up by 2020, it would take until 2039. That means it will take 19 more years to clean up the e-waste mess created by the solar panels about to expire in Japan. What’s more troubling is that Japan will be creating up to 80x the amount of solar power by 2034. At that rate, it could take centuries for Japan to clean up its own e-waste created by solar panels. In 2040, the country will create 800,000 tons of e-waste annually.
Dangers of a Solar Panel
Briefly, some of the dangers posed by solar panel waste are due to the presence of heavy metals and known carcinogens. Cadmium and lead are just some of the toxins found inside solar panels. Even though solar panels are mostly glass, even the glass can’t be recycled in the normal way because those toxins make their way into the glass over the life of solar panels.
There have been reports and studies to show that e-wasted created by solar panels has made its way from e-waste landfills into municipal water supplies and nearby waterways.
The Pottsville Green New Deal
This is just one of many reasons why this ill-conceived and hastily considered Green New Deal for Pottsville Area School District is a bad idea. Not only does it place a financial burden on the district’s taxpayers, it creates a massive problem for future generations at the school.
We’ll be getting rid of these solar panels — if they last as long as promised — in 40 years. There’s no possible way to guarantee anything will be around in 40 years that serves as a place to dump these toxic solar panels.
- Pottsville Solar Panels – The Practice Field Red Herring
- Blinded By the Light – The Pottsville Solar Panel Disarray
- Pottsville Schools – No Confidence in Any of Them
- More Than 500 Join Petition Against Pottsville School District’s Recent Boondoggle