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How are materials used for renewable energy disposed once they are done with? Solar panels, wind turbines, water turbines, etc.
I would like to know this in the context of calculating the benefits of renewable energy - how the disposal of the materials used impacts the entire life cycle of renewable energy generation.
by (360 points)
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Well, not a question about energy per se, but definitely an interesting one. Depending on the energy system it might be a better idea to repower - strip away old electronics, install new ones and continue using- than to recycle.

Some materials are recycled in a straightforward way - metals come to mind, whereas others such as silicon - used a lot in PV and electronic systems need specialised treatment. There is a plant - possibly more but i am not aware of that as recycling isn't my field- that recycles PV panels by harvesting the silicon with a recovery rate of over 95% - see here for more details https://www.veolia.com/en/newsroom/news/recycling-photovoltaic-panels-circular-economy-france.

The balance of system components (electronics, earthing, wiring etc) goes down the usual e-waste route, with some recycling, some energy recovery and unfortunately some illegal dumping still taking place.
by (300 points)
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This question is better split into different types of renewable energy.

For solar energy, see answer at https://www.onesharedearth.com/202/how-are-materials-used-for-solar-energy-disposed

For wind energy, see answer at https://www.onesharedearth.com/203/how-are-materials-used-for-wind-energy-disposed

Links for other renewable energy will be added as info is available.

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