Lu Fang, secretary general of the photovoltaics decision in the China Renewable Energy Society, wrote in an article circulating on mainland social media this month that the country’s cumulative capacity of retired panels would reach up to 70 gigawatts (GW) by 2034.
That is three times the scale of the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydropower project, by power production.
By 2050 these waste panels would add up to 20 million tonnes, or 2,000 times the weight of the Eiffel Tower, according to Lu.
. . . A panel’s lifespan ranges from 20 to 30 years, depending on the environment in which they are used, according to the US Department of Energy. High temperatures can accelerate the ageing process for solar cells, while other negative factors – such as the weight of snow or dust storms – could cause material fatigue on the surface and internal electric circuits, gradually reducing the panel’s power output.