Countries that are not friendly to us have seized on the idea of alternative energy sources and dream of creating a future without Russian hydrocarbons. But for some reason, they are silent about the terrible environmental consequences of using solar panels.
WASTE FROM SUNNY CITY
Photovoltaic modules began to appear in America and Germany in the 90s. Today, 150 countries are investing in clean energy, and 20 more are planning to do so in the near future.
And everything would be fine, but any coin has two sides: the underside of solar power plants (SES) does not look as perfect as the front part, and the main claim here is to the materials from which the solar panels are made. Glass, plastic and aluminum in them are higher than the roof, but there is also a large amount of toxic lead, chromium and cadmium. As long as they are used for their intended purpose, there is nothing to worry about, but as soon as heavy metals end up in a landfill, carcinogens end up in the ground.
Electronic waste is produced by many modern gadgets, but experts assure that the processing of photovoltaic modules is more difficult and more expensive than most other devices. To get $2 worth of useful elements from a solar panel, you need to spend an average of $20. As a result, the answer to the question of what happens to millions of solar panels around the globe at the end of their service life sounds disappointing: a small part is recycled with sin in half where it is strictly monitored, but almost everything ends up in landfills.
Solar energy is a young industry and has not yet had much time to litter. But it is developing rapidly. If in 2007 the global capacity of solar power plants was 10 GW (each of the four reactors installed at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant generated 1 GW of electrical power), then by the beginning of 2018 – about 400 GW. It is estimated that by 2050, solar energy will account for about 20% of global energy consumption (4500 GW).
If we take into account that the service life of solar panels is 20-30 years, a surge in their utilization will occur in the early 2030s. It will not be long before the waste from the production of photovoltaic panels will grow globally and amount to approximately 60-78 million tons. Dozens of tons of lead, cadmium, chromium and God knows what other toxic elements will end up in the soil.
THE TIME OF CARBON IS NOT GONE YET
Today the world is divided into two camps. Some hope to stop global warming by developing solar and wind farms. And others believe that global warming is a myth, and the “green tariff” is a fairy tale for “kickbacks and cuts” and the liberation of the West from Russian supplies of oil, gas and coal.
Who is right, time will tell, but it is quite obvious that those who started it will lose from the economic war with Russia. No matter how much Europe and the United States build solar power plants, they will not be able to create even daily supplies of electricity. No lithium batteries are enough for this. In addition, the sun is shining today, tomorrow it has gone behind the clouds, the wind is blowing today, and tomorrow it will be calm. What then?..
Carbon reserves are stable and colossal, but if the West does not need them for environmental or political reasons, then this is its problem. Citizens can light candles, light a fireplace, but what will a metallurgical plant do? Melting processes cannot be interrupted due to clouds in the sky.
The Asians understand this and are planning to build coal stations, which, if things go really well, will be able to convert them to gas in the future. India and China do not intend to sit without heat and light or stop production. The need to build more thermal power plants has come even in Japan, where only yesterday there was only talk about a carbon-free future.
Europe believes that covering the needs of its thermal power plants with Russian gas is now ideologically unacceptable. She would rather cut her own forest for firewood than return to our cheap gas and coal. However, it is her choice.
The West wanted to strangle our export earnings from the sale of hydrocarbons, but in fact it is strangling itself, not wanting to give up its political ambitions and following the lead of the adherents of “clean” energy. Time will tell who is right. But there is reason to believe that the coming winter will show that the good old hydrocarbons are capable of doing what “advanced” energy sources cannot do.
Photo: ADOBE STOCK