Representing nearly 7% of carbon in the world, India is its third emitter of CO2.
Although it strives to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement which includes building its renewable energy, nearly 75-80% of India’s energy needs come from coal, petroleum and other fossil fuels.
In addition, a new report claims that unless there is a green energy revolution in India, it will become a major source of CO2 emissions globally.
With its population increasing by around 270 million more people over the next 20 years, it becomes important for India to start researching renewable energy rather than conventional fuels.
This also happened for several other obvious reasons.
Climate change, coupled with the continued rise and flow of oil prices, accessibility to fossil fuels and lack of employment opportunities are also leading to the use of renewable energies, which will soon invade the global market of energy.
But before we make that bigger transition, we need to examine its dark side and think about whether it is somehow harming the environment, the entity it was designed to serve the most.
Green energy waste problem: decarbonization is not completely clean
Like other power generation technologies that generate an impressive amount of waste, green forms of energy are not entirely spared.
Decarbonization by renewable energies does not mean no waste.
An EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) strategist said, “Without an end-of-life management strategy, so-called green technologies like solar panels, electric vehicle batteries and wind turbines will ultimately impose an unintentional burden on our society. planet and our economy. “
Solar waste: does not shine so bright
The EPA even calculated the amount of waste accumulated from these supposedly clean sources, particularly solar, by 2050: China contributing $ 20 million, the United States with $ 10 million and the India with $ 7.5 million.
In 2016, International Renewable Energy Agency warned that without required modifications to the processing of solar panels, its waste could amount to up to 78 million tonnes of waste.
This can emerge from obsolescence as new low cost or low maintenance technologies continue to enter the industry market.
Solar panels tend to lose their efficiency as soon as they are installed. Either they are scrapped or newly introduced more efficient panels hit the market in no time.
Even at an average efficiency drop of 0.5 percent, this can lead to an efficiency rate of less than 30 percent (after technical light-to-electricity conversion). This is leading industry users to switch to newer solar tools with better efficiency.
And as IRENA has said, this kind of early solar bailout can result in 50 times more solar panel waste than expected.
IRENA said: “Recycling or reuse of photovoltaic solar panels at the end of their lifespan of around 30 years can unlock an estimated stock of 78 million tonnes of raw materials and other valuable components worldwide by 2050 . “
Recycle and reuse: worthy or valued?
According to industry insiders, the cost of recycling a single panel is between $ 12 and $ 25 while the revenue from the recovery of such items is around $ 3 per panel.
Therefore, without a doubt, recycling is less chosen because recycling costs between $ 20 and $ 30 and throwing it in a landfill costs $ 1 to $ 2.
Without a strict mandate from a country on such grounds, this option is far from reality.
According to the researchers: “By 2035, discarded panels would exceed new units sold by 2.56 times. In turn, this would catapult the LCOE (Discounted Energy Cost, a measure of the overall cost of an energy-producing asset over its lifetime) to four times the current projection. “
“The solar economy – so bright from a 2021 perspective – would quickly darken as the industry sinks under the weight of its own waste. “
Waste related to wind energy:
Although most wind turbines can be recycled or found a second life somewhere, researchers believe that there aren’t many options for recycling or treating wind turbine blades.
The blades, made of a tough yet flexible blend of resin and fiberglass, make it hard to die.
“The wind turbine blade will be there, at the end of the day, forever. The last thing we want to do is create even more environmental challenges ”, explains an environmentalist.
According to the Electric Power Research Institute, all blade waste alone as of 2015 will form 0.015% of all municipal solid waste by 2050.
The United States alone could have over 720,000 tonnes of blade material to dispose of in landfills over the next 20 years.
Nuclear waste threatens lives:
A 2018 report from the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) analyzed and calculated the nuclear waste from all of these power plants around the world to be over 367,600 tonnes (just over 405,000 standard tonnes).
This was recorded from the start of electricity production in 1954 until 2013. This nuclear waste prevalent in the global commons spanned a period of almost six decades.
The nuclear industry has made it very clear that it can store, transport and dispose of waste safely.
It will now be up to the government’s will to plan for wise use or disposal, with the least impact on the environment.