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Green Globe: Waste from solar panels could overwhelm China by midcentury


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Green Globe: Waste from solar panels could overwhelm China by midcentury

China faces a renewable energy dilemma: what to do with its aging solar panels? The South China Morning Post reports the country's cumulative capacity of retired panels could reach up to 70,000 MW by 2034. "By 2050 these waste panels would add up to 22 million tons, or 2,000 times the weight of the Eiffel Tower," said Lu Fang, the secretary general of the China Renewable Energy Society's photovoltaic division.

The materials in solar panels, which include several metals along with silicon and plastic, make them hard to recycle, recycling manager Tian Min told the South China Morning Post. In China, there is the added cost of transporting panels from solar power plants clustered in Inner Mongolia to recycling plants, which are mostly located along the country's coastline.

"It will explode with full force in two or three decades and wreck the environment, if the estimate is correct," Tian said.

Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems A/S and its American operations have received a patent infringement complaint from General Electric. In the complaint filed with the U.S. Circuit Court of California, GE said Vestas infringed on its patented technology that couples wind turbine generators with an electric power system to keep the system running in voltage drops due to short circuits and lightning strikes. GE said Vestas has knowingly used this technology on four wind turbine models installed on 19 wind farms in 11 U.S. states.

"As Vestas has only just received the complaint, we have therefore not been able to study it in detail," the company said in a statement. "However, based on our initial assessment, we strongly believe that the complaint is without merit and intend to challenge it."

Meanwhile the World Bank announced on July 27 it is working on four projects valued at a total of $43 million in Palestine's territories, including the Gaza Strip, to alleviate the country's energy problems. The Jerusalem Post reports that that more than 150 MW of solar power can be produced in Gaza, though the region usually produces no more than 60 MW. Since June, Israel has reduced its electricity exports to the Gaza Strip, after the Palestinian National Authority told the country to stop supplying electricity.

"Through these new projects, the World Bank seeks to support living standards in a challenging and fragile environment," Marina Wes, The World Bank's country director for West Bank and Gaza, said in a statement. "This includes delivery of services to Palestinian citizens, engagement of the private sector for job creation, and building up of the public's trust in local institutions."


India's largest lender is moving forward with its 600 MW rooftop PV solar program after the World Bank agreed to finance the project, pv magazine reports. The State Bank of India has issued a request for proposal for external auditors.

Wind industry group WindEurope applauds Spain's renewable energy auction, but it is worried about the speed of deploying energy projects and calls on the Spanish government to maintain "reasonable profitability" for existing projects after 2020.

Germany's SolarWorld AG has entered the insolvency process, though the module maker is negotiating with an investor the takeover of two of its production sites, according to pv magazine.

European oil companies have caught wind of the U.S.'s offshore wind energy market, even with the future of American renewable energy project costs uncertain. Reuters reports Norway's Statoil and Royal Dutch Shell are among the oil giants taking an interest in offshore wind farms.