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Recycling Renewables: 'A Black Eye for Green Energy'
Tom Finnerty • 05 May, 2023 • 2 Min Read
Becalmed in the Sargasso Sea of economic reality.
CBS News recently aired a surprisingly informative segment on the huge amount of waste produced by the so-called "renewable" energy industry every year. What do you want to bet that few mainstream news viewers have ever heard of this before? Chances are the in-studio host isn't alone when he says, towards the end of the clip that he "had no idea, or even thought about what happens when [solar panels and wind turbines] age out."
The segment ran under the heading "Renewable energy growth brings mounting waste challenge," and quickly made clear that "challenge" is an understatement:
Driven primarily by wind and solar power, renewable energy sources surpassed coal for electricity generation in the United States last year, marking a significant milestone. However, as the industry expands, a new problem emerges: what to do with the mounting waste generated by worn-out solar panels and wind turbine blades. More than 90 percent of discarded solar panels end up in landfills. By 2030, the retired panels are estimated to cover an area equivalent to about 3,000 football fields.
They spoke to the CEO of a company called We Recycle Solar about what he calls "a 'tsunami' of impending solar waste," driven in part by the first few waves of solar panels coming to the end of their 25-30 year lifespan, but also by people replacing their solar panels far too early in response to "advancements in solar panel technology and new government incentives." Some of the panels he's trying to recycle are only three of four years old, which suggests that installing them in the first place was more about keeping up with the latest fashion than about the environment.
And then there's wind turbines. The CBS segment showed a quarry in Missouri filled with "decommissioned wind turbines and nearly 200-foot long blades, chopped into several pieces." They explain that by 2050 the wind industry is expected to "produce more than 47 million tons of blade waste each year." As the camera pans out to show a massive landfill filled with wind turbine detritus which a bulldozer is in the process of burying, they describe it as "a black eye for green energy."
Now, strictly speaking CBS has framed this as a story about the few people who are working away at solving this difficult problem. One woman, for instance, works for a company which shred blades and sell the remains to cement companies to burn as a fuel for their kilns, a replacement for coal. They claim that cuts the kilns' carbon emissions by "nearly 30 percent." Because of course they say that. How else are they going to secure government contracts for chopping them up?
Even so, the report is a tacit admission that there is something wrong with "green" energy, that it is at least as harmful to the environment as the energy sources it seeks to replace. Consequently, it is surprising that it even aired. Because the Left really doesn't like it when their partisans are forced to confront, ahem, inconvenient truths about their ideology. That's why they were so enraged when Michael Moore's documentary, Planet of the Humans, came out three years ago and exposed the scams at the heart of the wind-and-solar industry.
So watch the report, post it on social media, and E-Mail it to your aging hippie uncle and your eco-nut niece. Chances are you won't see its likes again.