Someday, U.S. electrical power generation may come from 100% renewable energy consisting almost entirely of wind and solar. But predictions of that happening within 10 or 20 years are unrealistic. There are simply too many obstacles standing in the way, among them: the massive investment of capital that would be required, the disruption of entire industries, technical challenges, and considerable societal and environmental impacts.
Solar panels are an increasingly important source of renewable power that will play an essential role in fighting climate change. They are also complex pieces of technology that become big, bulky sheets of electronic waste at the end of their lives—and right now, most of the world doesn’t have a plan for dealing with that.
But we’ll need to develop one soon, because the solar e-waste glut is coming.
According to a press release from ANL, researchers at the lab, working with partners at Northern Illinois University, have discovered a new electrocatalyst that converts carbon dioxide and water into ethanol with very high energy efficiency, high selectivity for the desired final product, and low cost. Ethanol is a particularly desirable commodity because it is an ingredient in nearly all US gasoline and is widely used as an intermediate product in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics industries.
Congressional Democrats today unveil a “Climate Crisis Action Plan” similar to the Green New Deal proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez last year, which sounded like a dream to many progressives and climate activists.
At the heart of the proposal are billions in new subsidies and a federal mandate to achieve 100% renewables.
As states grapple with the need to reduce carbon emissions, widespread retrofitting of industrial facilities and powerplants with capture and storage technology remains an elusive goal and emerging challenge in the U.S.
Almost every international climate change scenario under the 2015 Paris Agreement shows the need for an enormous ramp-up of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies to meet global goals. Timing matters, not just scale.