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17 Aug 2018

Bibek Bhandari & Nicole Lim, Sixth Tone

China: Lack of regulations on solar panel recycling raises concerns about toxic waste affecting health & environment

"The Dark Side of China’s Solar Boom"

China is now the world’s biggest solar market in terms of money spentpanels manufactured, and energy produced. But despite the country’s sunny outlook, there are dark clouds looming. PV panels, which convert solar energy into electric energy, have a lifespan of around 30 years. Experts say that millions of aging panels could have significant environmental impacts — especially since China doesn’t have specific regulations on solar panel recycling. The International Renewable Energy Agency predicted that by 2050, about 20 million tons of PV panel waste could be accumulated in China — the largest amount of solar trash worldwide...Mary Hutzler, senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research in Washington D.C., said that solar panels are manufactured using hazardous materials — including sulfuric acid and phosphine gas — making them difficult to recycle. They also contain toxic metals like lead, chromium, and cadmium, which can be harmful to humans and are likely to leak from electronic waste dumps into drinking water supplies...“It is very important to initiate public discussion right now, so that proper processes can be developed and implemented in time to ensure that the upcoming decommissioning of these products is done properly,” Hutzler...[Refers to Trina Solar]