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Imagine the worst thing you could do with fairly stable but potentially toxic material? Grind it up. Make it into a product! Truly unbelievable. CERCLA here we come!

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Dec 8, 2022Liked by B.F. Randall ⚛ ⛏ ⚡

I will note that most of the use involves shredding or grinding. Just as in mining, this is what you do to maximize the exposure of the material to leaching liquids. That process inevitably creates heat and dust in the material as well.

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So basically all of the states should just send their used solar panels to California to be dumped! Just set up a business in CA that buys “slightly used” panels from other states and countries to then just throw them away on the cheap. They could even make marketing materials showing how they were “recycling” and just have one guy doing boutique work of reassembling the unbroken parts of a couple of non working panels per year, and the Sierra Club would probably feature them prominently.

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Not the states---the market will respond to incentives and low cost. Solar panels aren't regulated in Cali. In your state, thy're haz waste. Do the math.

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I've heard that at the best it costs at least $20 to get $8 worth of material in your best case scenario, which is another reason to not bother

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"California leads the nation in PV solar installations—over 1.5 million; over 37,000 MW of installed capacity; over $80 Billion invested."

Since South Korea builds their 1400 MWe reactors for about $5/watt, that $80 billion could have built sixteen GWe of nuclear power plants. The 37 GWe of solar that California got instead is nameplate capacity, so they’re lucky to get 30% of that, probably realistically about 10GWe, and then only intermittently. And solar panels only last 25-35 years, less than half the life span of nuclear plants (probably only a third, actually). Those sixteen power plants could have produced about 2/3 of California’s electricity requirements, which are about 25 MWe. It is likely that for multiple reactors like this the price would have been under $4/watt, low enough to build sufficient capacity for all California’s needs, instead of the state finding itself in the precarious situation it’s in now, with rolling blackouts looking like the new normal, and California having to beg hat-in-hand to its neighbors when they're short of juice.

This is so much like the Germany/France situation as to be ludicrous. If you'd have told somebody back in the early Seventies that one of those countries would be running primarily on nuclear power and the other would be stumbling along with windmills and solar panels, the betting would have been heavy on the assumption that the consummate engineers, the Germans, would be the nuclear nation. Similarly, one could easily have assumed that high-tech-heaven California would be all nuclear by now. And they could have been, easily, with the money they've pissed away on wind and solar. The power of fantasy and ideological delusion is strong enough to steer entire states and nations onto improbable dead ends.

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Oh my God I love Substack. I just wish I had more money to subscribe to the wonderful array of dedicated scientists, public policy folks, etc doing the work that newspapers and other "news" media refuse to. Oh to be left alone by corporate interests; how long can this avenue of journalism remain unlocked?

My favorite idea of what to do with clearly dangerous spent solar installations is to...ship them to countries with desperate energy needs and no regulations! It's a win-win. America helps another country realize the joy of almost useless stuff and we don't have to clean up the aftermath! U S A! U S A!

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Good point- I didn’t mean “state entities”, just anyone not in Cali.

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My favorite story of disposal of hazardous waste was from NYC. A company disposed of radioactive waste by letting it drain out of the tanker trucks onto the freeway at night. Which also goes to show how meaningless most rad-waste categorizations are. Most, but not all. Several incidents with improper disposal of gamma-ray canisters from hospitals. Hospitals are the hottest locations people go to by far.

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