Graduation Year

2018

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Teresa Sabol Spezio

Reader 2

Tanja Srebotnjak

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2017 Taylor Haas

Abstract

While solar energy presents the possibility of a low-carbon energy world, the solar industry has its own environmental impacts. Data on end-of-life management of photovoltaics (PV) remains scarce and as more solar panels reach the end of their lifespan, systems for their appropriate management need to be created. Because PV modules contain small amounts of hazardous materials, panels cannot be landfilled without some processing. Additionally, by not addressing the problem of PV waste and failing to create a system for management, an unintended consequence of shipping PV waste abroad remains possible. As a leader in environmental problem solving and a large installer of solar power, California has a responsibility to plan for PV end-of-life and to create policy for sustainable management practices. Using the existing extended producer responsibility and product stewardship policies and programs in California for mattresses, carpets, and beverage containers, policymakers can establish a program for the sustainable management of PV waste. Learning from these policies’ successes and failures, California legislators can push the solar industry to innovate and think about the impacts of their product at all stages in the life cycle.

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