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Solar Panels: The Dark Side of Green Energy

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It’s time to cast a spotlight on an issue often overlooked in the ongoing push toward green energy solutions. Last month, a severe hail storm in Nebraska damaged numerous solar panels at the Scottsbluff Community Solar project. Although some will be salvageable, many will find their final resting place in a landfill, according to recent reports.

CBS indicates that more than 90% of panels are landfilled when they’re damaged, defective, or at the end of their functional life. By 2030, the disposed panels are projected to occupy about 3,000 football fields’ worth of landfill space.

In a disastrous turn of events in late June, a thunderstorm featuring baseball-sized hail hit a solar farm at a staggering speed of 150 mph, causing considerable damage within minutes. The storm that originated in Wyoming wreaked havoc across the state line on a solar farm in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Scottsbluff City Manager, Kevin Spencer, upon viewing the devastation, succinctly commented, “It looks destroyed to me.”

In a grim description, Kevin Killough reported that the hail decimated most of the panels on the 5.2-megawatt solar project, sparing a few panels “like missing teeth in a white smile.” Decisions regarding the aftermath have not yet been finalized, says Grant Otten, spokesperson for the Nebraska Public Power District, which owns the solar farm.

An often-underemphasized aspect of solar power generation is the waste management aspect. Recycling isn’t typically a viable option for these damaged or discarded solar panels. As B.F. Randall, who has written extensively on the feasibility of recycling materials from panels, puts it, “A solar panel has very little mineral content relative to the volume of the panel.”

Polysilicon, a major component of solar panels, cannot be recycled back into its original form. If transformed into sand, it poses a significant toxicity risk. Randall further highlighted that even if refining was possible, the panels contain at most $6 worth of silver, rendering recycling economically inefficient.

This incident serves as a stark reminder that every energy source, even those touted as green or sustainable, has a downside. As we push towards a more sustainable future, it’s critical to discuss and address these challenges honestly. Conservative values are not opposed to environmental stewardship; on the contrary, we believe in a balanced approach that acknowledges the pros and cons of every solution. Our commitment is to a sustainable, practical, and economically viable energy future. Let’s continue the conversation with open minds and respect for differing perspectives.

Alexandra Russel
Alexandra Russel
Highly respected journalist and political commentator with over a decade of experience in the industry. Alex was born and raised in Florida, where she developed a passion for writing at a young age, leading her to pursue a degree in journalism from the University of Florida. After graduation, she worked as a political reporter for several local and national publications before being appointed as the chief editor at Conservative Fix.
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