Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Solar installation in the Appalachians. Photo by Cynthia Shahan, CleanTechnica


Recycling Clean Energy Technologies

This is an introductory blog post in a series examining current challenges and opportunities for recycling of clean energy technologies. Covered in this series are solar panels, wind turbines, and energy storage batteries.

Courtesy of Union Of Concerned Scientists.
By James Gignac, Lead Midwest energy analyst

This is an introductory blog post in a series examining current challenges and opportunities for recycling of clean energy technologies. Covered in this series are solar panelswind turbines, and energy storage batteries. Special thanks to Jessica Garcia, UCS’s Summer 2020 Midwest Clean Energy Policy Fellow, for research support and co-authoring these posts.

Clean energy technologies like solar, wind, and battery storage are growing rapidly in the United States and around the world, as their costs have fallen dramatically over the past decade. This is good news for reducing greenhouse gas pollution, improving public health, and keeping our energy system resilient and affordable.

However, while clean energy technologies have many benefits compared to burning fossil fuels, they still have environmental considerations that need to be carefully and responsibly mitigated or managed. Clean energy technologies require materials to build. And, like other equipment and machinery, they do eventually wear out and reach the end of their useful lives. The question is, what happens then?

Opponents to clean energy sometimes criticize it by citing to potential raw material constraints or existing gaps in recycling and end-of-use disposal options. The purpose of this blog series is to address some of those claims but also to focus on a key aspect of responsible clean energy advocacy: improving the reuse and recycling of clean energy components.

Climate change is a global existential threat, and the benefits that clean energy provide to reducing the emissions underlying that threat are undeniable. Equally important are the co-benefits such as improved human health outcomes from reducing fossil fuel use. But this doesn’t mean that additional considerations which come with the transition to a clean energy economy can or should be ignored.

The emerging technologies, policy improvements, and expanding market opportunities can help assure decision makers that the system, although not perfect at this moment, can collectively move in that direction. With the right enabling factors to support full life-cycle consideration of clean energy technologies, we can continue to rapidly deploy the technologies at increasing scale both responsibly and safely.

To learn more about the recycling considerations of specific clean energy technologies, please see the additional blog posts in this series on solar panelswind turbines, and energy storage batteries.

Featured image: Solar installation in North Carolina, by Cynthia Shahan/CleanTechnica

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...
If you like what we do and want to support us, please chip in a bit monthly via PayPal or Patreon to help our team do what we do! Thank you!
Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Written By

We publish a number of guest posts from experts in a large variety of fields. This is our contributor account for those special people, organizations, agencies, and companies.


You May Also Like

Clean Power

The call for circular economic practices to be used in conjunction with other aspects of the renewable energy transition has been gaining more attention...

Clean Power

Repowering an existing wind farm is one way to get around the anti-wind movement and keep pumping more clean kilowatts into the grid.

Clean Power

Recycling solar panels will become more important as older panels reach the end of their useful life.


Redwood Materials reports that after the first year of operation, its battery recycling facility in California has been a success.

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.