Good Idea Fairy Part Deux

| July 18, 2022

California went in for solar in a big way. Starting 2006, they gave homeowners incentives and drove the cost of solar to previously unknown low levels. And with solar panels having an average lifespan of 25-30 years, had plenty of time to do something about end of life waste. Solar panels are mostly glass, but have sufficient amounts of bad stuff like cadmium, lead, etc. to qualify as toxic waste. The $2-4 recoverable from each panel makes the $20-30 labor and processing costs not viable. Now, note that that 25-30 years is not a hard and fast number – older panels are already failing, and warehouses are filling up with toxic waste. While there is limited recycling, some states required special transport, and in California, the requirements are onerous enough that the largest solar panel recycler doesn’t even have a plant there – its plant is in Yuma, Arizona and dead panels have to be shipped to it.

Sam Vanderhoof, a solar industry expert and chief executive of Recycle PV Solar, says that only 1 in 10 panels are actually recycled, according to estimates drawn from International Renewable Energy Agency data on decommissioned panels and from industry leaders.

The looming challenge over how to handle truckloads of waste, some of it contaminated, illustrates how cutting-edge environmental policy can create unforeseen problems down the road.

“This trash is probably going to arrive sooner than we expected and it is going to be a huge amount of waste,” said Serasu Duran, an assistant professor at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business in Canada. “But while all the focus has been on building this renewable capacity, not much consideration has been put on the end of life of these technologies.”

Now, panels are classified as universal waste and can be collected at more than 400 universal waste handlers in California, where they are then assessed and transported to disposal, reuse or recycle facilities. (In cases where panels containing toxic materials are relegated to landfills, they are sent to facilities with extra safeguards against leakage.)

LA Times

The article suggests that disposal costs will need to be built into initial purchase prices, just like we currently have on car batteries and tires.  But with no clear road to “how do we get that other 90% of panels recycled” it sounds like we are facing more poisons dumped into our landfills in the name of being green. Now, please don’t get me wrong – I’m all in favor of energy conservation and independence – but we sure seem to be going about it in a half-assed way, with no consideration of life-cycle management. In military terms, this is like having a fun day at the range, with no plan to police up your brass.


Category: "Teh Stoopid", Global Warming Voodoo

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Typical short sighted Marxists. They show how they care for the planet in the beginning and their five year plan doesn’t take into account what will happen in twenty years. When the bill comes due they make it so hard within their fiefdom to dispose of the panel that it needs to ship them somewhere else making their problem someone else’s.

Hack Stone

That is what 3rd World Shitholes are for. We send all of our hazardous waste to somewhere in India or Pakistan, the company buying the waste has a legion of 8 year olds with blowtorches and no safety gear to extract precious metals, and the company provides the American sniper a forged document that the material has been recycled in accordance with current environmental standards.

Hack Stone

American shipper, not sniper.


Heh. Now there’s a Freudian slip if I ever saw one.

Daisy Cutter

We’ve asked Dave to provide a “Say What I Mean” spell check button but it has not been implemented yet.

A Proud Infidel®™

Just so you know, I heard that the Inventor of Autocorrect has pissed away, may he Restaurant in pieces.


It’s “green and “sustainable” for virtue signaling!


While 1 in 10 get recycled, 3 in 10 get reused.

Several of us have used old “worn out” panels to power our hunting cabins. You can get 120-240 watt panels that are 20+ years old for less than $10 each (sometimes free!)

Sure they are only 80% of what they were new, meaning they are 90 watts instead of 120 watts, but if you are only using it to run a fan and some led lights this is not a problem.

I set up my uncle with a solar/battery combo to power a fence up on top of a hill he wants to graze down after he clears it.

What makes recycling them so hard is all the government rules and restrictions.

I wanted to set up a solar and battery system for my detached garage to power our freezer and seed starter system but the city would not allow me to put up “used” panels (and require a permit along with a special battery storage box). Even with free panels thanks to the city we can’t afford that.


I believe the numbers are actually higher than that, although I have no hard proof. Often times I will see older panels for sale at flea markets that get snapped up at bargain prices for the exact applications you are talking about. It is normally a lot cheaper than hooking up to the grid.

A Proud Infidel®™

You can always count on Government to fuck things up for everyone, I wonder if the local Solar Panel Salesman in your town is related to someone in City Hall?


comment image

Josey Wales’ Redbone Hound

So, the panels are considered toxic waste at end of life, but these clowns want you to install them on your house? Solar panels are the new lead paint.


There is no such thing as a “25-30 average” of anything; however even if there were solar panels don’t have an average “lifespan” of 25-30 years. Panels built 70 years ago work just fine.

Panels are normally warranted for 25-30 years by the manufacturer which is stunning. Try to find a commercial generator for a power plant with a 30 year warranty, no such unicorn exists. It’s useful life will likely be measured around 30K-50K hours.

Solar panels do degrade over time and become less efficient. A panel that is 25 years old will, on average produce 82% of the power it produced when it was new, all while requiring zero maintenance. This varies by type and construction of the panel. Numbers are improved for newer, better built panels.


All well and good. But it doesn’t answer the question of what to do with old panels. I’m guessing it’s far easier and cheaper to recycle a used up commercial generator, and probably much less toxic.


If you are concerned about waste you should pick your battles a little more carefully.

95% of solar panels are made from non-toxic silicon. The very expensive, rare ones made from rare earth materials have service life in the multi decades and are most often used in commercial and government applications (like outer space) where price is less of a concern.

Some newer ones contain trace amounts of selenium. All the selenium from all the solar panels ever made is actually less than the amount released into ground water from fracking last year just in North Dakota.


The “average” new solar panel contain about 20 grams of silver, 10 grams of selenium, 13 grams of lead and close to 1 gram of cadmium (95% contain 0). Lead is used for the solder and doesn’t have to be used. The plan is to reduce it by 50% by 2026 and to eventually phase it out completely.


It’s not the waste that I object to. It’s the force-feeding of the “green energy” lie. I’m not anti-solar, it’s very effective for a lot of things here in Arizona. BUT it’s not necessarily green. You can’t get something for nothing. Changing one form of waste and pollution for another and calling it “environmentally friendly” is one giant crock of shit.


Nobody ever said it was perfect. If you are looking for a standard “Green = No pollution”; this isn’t a thing.

Would you feel better if it were labeled 99.99% less polluting than coal? or 98% less polluting than combined cycle gas? If you are trying to say that solar somehow IS NOT MORE environmentally friendly than other sources of electricity that is an argument that not only has no basis in reality but can easily be disproven by every measure.


Ever seen a strip mine, champ?


“Green = No pollution”. That’s exactly the lie the greenies are pushing and exactly what I’m objecting to. That’s kinda my point, thanks for making it for me.

Last edited 6 months ago by SFC D

 illustrates how cutting-edge environmental policy can create unforeseen problems down the road.”

Actually, the problems are only “unforeseen” by the moron green weenies pushing these stupid ideas, those of us that think rationally always look down the road and see these things, that’s why we don’t jump on board until / unless the issues are addressed. But the mental midgets on the left don’t let anything get in the way of the agenda

jeff LPH 3 63-66

The solar panel on one of my hand held calculators is around 10 years old so It still has time left on it.


I will not let statements like this divide us. there’s a limit! It’ll be exponentially better to make comments that originate in proper function instead of subtract from the base.

Your incongruence has been log’ged.

I wish piece[wise](sic) upon you and you be root’ed in empirical data.

jeff LPH 3 63-66

It will be a sin to add this as I log in to all this hyp about solar panels and next time I use the calculator, I will apply sunscreen be cos I tan to fast.


The arc of this thread is out of bounds to the nth degree!

I bet we’re pushing buttons! Maybe they’ll get up’set to the point of irrational’ity?


That’s what y’all get with all of this calculating that pie are square. Pie are round, casserole are square.

Why not just store all of the toxic solar panel wastes in those hugh underground caverns that were built to handle all of the nuc waste? Oh…wait…never mind.


The whole post is irrational. There are a lot of reasons why other sources of energy may be better than photovoltaic solar for an application but short service life and pollution aren’t really among them.

A lengthy payback period or ROI and limitations and constraints on placement are logical arguments against solar. Trying to throw solar out of the tool box for irrational reasons is dumb.


I’m not trying to throw solar out of the toolbox. The issue is calling it green energy. The Green New Deal drags around a trainload of bullshit that could fertilize the Sinai.


If solar was investable on a large scale, without subsidies, considering the interest rates have been NIRP/ZIRP since ’08…

Why they not everywhere?

I’m with you SFC D, it’s a tool. A great tool in the right applications.

But like all things, once a floor of ‘acceptable’, or ‘standard’, quality is imposed by interference the whole of it tends to fecalate quick.


Funny that, It is everywhere, at least as fast as the factories can get the product to the market running wide open.

In the last ten years solar and wind have accounted for the vast majority of new generation capacity in the US with solar accounting for the larger chunk.

In 2012 there was less than 10,000 Mw installed in the US and now there is more than 120,000 Mw installed. Show me another industry with an average 27% annual compound growth rate. 75% of it is in commercial plants. There is now enough solar in the US to power 25,000,000 homes.

You guys are like some crazy demented dinosaurs.


You suffer from reading discomprehension.

A Proud Infidel®™

What damned good are those windmills on a hot day with no wind? What good are the solar panels on a cloudy day? Meanwhile, the coal, gas and nuclear plants turn out the necessary electricity along with Hydroelectric dams which greenie-weenies also hate!


90% of the CBP camera towers I maintained are Solar with a 5Kw propane generator backup. The generator might run 24 hours in a year. Solar is perfect for this because there’s no commercial power available. BUT between the 30 sq ft panel and the huge bank of batteries, it’s a big pile of toxic waste.


Yes! The cost of running lines out there is likely prohibitive. Also, reduction of the likelihood of fires due to a pole coming down? Possibly incalculable.

Any of our Firefighter friends here can attest to the fury of lighted brush lands.

Added benefit, redundancy of source if for any other reason: security.

The backside cost might be high but I expect, actually demand, someone accounts for ’em.


As per usual, the government creates a problem and seeks to be the solution.

If these things have value, added and retained, then the free market would shape itself to extract it, or nurture it.

There’s always the third “option”, which given the history of well-intentioned, horridly-executed solution-set of Our Betters: send them over seas via heavy subsidies, have poor children with their tiny hands disassemble them and sort thru the remaining waste after it is burned.



Not really fair to say “the grubermint”. Anyone in power be it the large business leaders or whoever is sticking their hand in the pie and trying to steer the raft

The last 15 months have shown beyond any reasonable doubt that the free market is a myth. Every part of the oil market is touched by the government from before it is discovered and even after it leaves an exhaust pipe.

When Trump was in he touched it less and since our economy is hugely oil based we prospered. The current band of idiots doesn’t really understand that.


Bless your heart.


To quote Homer Simpson; “ah the ironing”.

Green Thumb

Surprised All-Points Logistics is not getting involved in this contract.

A Proud Infidel®™

According to Federal law, Hazardous Waste can only be kept by the entity generating it for 90 days, then it must be shipped to a TSD, a Temporary Storage Facility which must ship it for disposal after 12 months. We’ll soon see just how much the liberals will bawl about the messes they’ve made with regulations, maybe they’ll still blame Donald trump? OH, and about the non-recyclable mess left by defunct wind turbines….


Somebody let me know when you can grow food, other than
mushrooms, under a solar panel.
Real estate is expensive and becoming scarce.
Compare one acre of food to one acre of solar panels and the
problem becomes obvious to even the most retarded liberal.
Well, maybe a few of them.


Grazing cattle can be done in the dark and yeah, beef
is food but I don’t see anything growing under those panels
other than grass I or you would not eat. Perhaps the manure would be a tasty treat for Turkeys (they love it) but
still, I don’t see your point.


I don’t understand how you can be this dense!

When you install the solar panel array you back them with spectrum appropriate grow LEDs.

See, energy neutral!

And the government inspectors get their fees for the install and environmental impact survey.

The government-regulated banks get their cut for the bonds created to pay for this.

The government “Carbon Advisory Board” gets to justify their salaries, calculating all that offset…

The government gets to tax you more for all these privileges, ergo more tax agents. They’ll need security against all the people that are sooooo happy they get so save the world with all these taxes versus feed their families.

And of course for all the hard work, government officers need a raise, rockwall at work and personal drivers.


You didn’t read it either. The solar panels run the milking equipment and meet other electrical needs.


Which is a good thing,…. maybe.

Decentralized systems are inherently more resilient and anything a farm can do, even suck off the teat of Daddy Gov, to pass saving along is a good thing.

But don’t pretend the panels and distortions of market forces are a good thing. You’re better than that, shake the tail when you walk.


You keep missing the point. PV Solar is not inherently “good” or “bad”. It is what it is. Some of things posted above were untrue. All I am doing is spreading the truth.


To be far, “All [you are] doing is spreading [data].”

The same thing most here are doing, civility too.

We all seem to be on the ‘same side’, i.e. if it makes dollars it makes sense.

Just treating it like its also not a giant, slow-moving, knowable problem –just like wind– is disingenuous.

The fact you’re not acknowledging this, just like MuH CoVId (and yeah, I ‘member) shows a lot about your character.

Be better.


Didn’t read the article I see.

BTW- Those are dairy cows.

Mike B

There was a huge campaign with so call great deals by the solar companies in Panama City, Florida after Hurricane Michael sent us back to the Stone Age in Oct 2018. People who did have the panels installed ran into issues real quick.

When their roofs started leaking, the roofing company said the roof was altered by the solar panel install and thus voided the warranty. The solar people just squirted some sealant around the screw holes as a fix. Some friends still have leakage, leading to new damage to their recently repaired homes.

Then throw in the fact that the insurance companies in Florida are wanting your roof replaced at 15 years now, or they won’t cover any repairs to it, unless the roof is damaged/lost due to a hurricane.

So if you have to replace your roof at 15 years, and the panels are good for 20-25 years. Who pays to have the panels removed and reinstalled? The home owner. Then the cycle starts new, with roofers versus solar people over the warranty.