Do you want Cambridge to be the location of the largest solar panel landfill dump in Wisconsin? It could happen unless the residents of Cambridge voice their concerns.
As proposed, the Koshkonong Solar Energy Center will be the largest solar project in Wisconsin encompassing 6,384 acres in the Towns of Christiana and Deerfield. This project is now under consideration by the Public Service Commission with comments due by July 3. All Cambridge residents should contact the PSC to oppose this project.
Invenergy, the Chicago based firm overseeing this project indicated in their PSC application that solar panels are more of a commodity, with new product variants such as higher efficiency or higher wattage options being introduced to the market at a rapid pace. By making this statement in their proposed plan will the solar panels used in this project become obsolete rapidly and thereby need to be removed or replaced? Solar panels at their end-of-life period are a hazardous electronic waste.
Electronic waste is a growing problem worldwide. According to Recycle PV Solar, one of the only U.S. companies dedicated to solar panel recycling around 10 percent of solar panels are recycled and the rest go in landfills or are exported overseas to developing countries with weak environmental protections. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, has stated that it currently costs $20 to $30 to recycle a panel vs. $1 to $2 to send it to a landfill. Also, the transportation costs to remove the solar panels is equal to the cost of recycling. Meaning it makes financial sense to dispose of these panels as close as possible to the fields they currently are in. Locating a solar panel landfill dump in the Cambridge area would be the most economically feasible option.
As proposed, Koshkonong Solar will install over 1 million solar panels. No specific details have been shared as to how these solar panels will be disposed of when they become obsolete. The solar industry cannot claim to be a clean energy source if it leaves a mountain of hazardous waste. A landfill is not green. Solar panels contain many hazardous chemicals that can leach into the environment when panels are disposed of in landfills.
We owe it to our children, grandchildren and the future residents of Cambridge to have answers before the first solar panel is installed.
- Daryll J. Lund, Sun Prairie