A circular approach to electrification and renewable energy

A circular approach to electrification and renewable energy
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Shutterstock Kampan Close Authorship While electrification and renewable energy are key to decarbonizing the economy, the growing demand for solar PV may be creating a new problem. Today’s standard practices for solar manufacturing and disposal need close examination — especially as demands for the cheap, clean energy is set to increase. The market for recovered materials from modules alone could total $60 million by 2030 and $2 billion by 2050 in the United States. But if current, low recycling rates continue, decommissioned PV modules instead could add up to 1 million tons of waste in the U.S. by 2030. (That’s 1 percent of the world’s e-waste.) To understand what it will take to tap into this opportunity, I spoke to Taylor Curtis, sustainability analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), who focuses on analyzing the current regulatory structures in the U.S. that affect recycling, reuse and repair of solar modules, panels and balance of system equipment such as inverters. Curtis is the lead author on a new report that addresses drivers, barriers and enablers of a more circular approach to solar PV system materials. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity. Lauren Phipps: What is NREL’s […]

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