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A bill introduced for the next legislative session by Rep. Fred Plett, a Goffstown Republican on the House Science, Technology and Energy committee, proposes a plan demanding that solar power makers be accountable of the end of the useful life of their product.
HB-1459 would ask the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services to develop guidelines for a solar panel recycling program.
This would require solar panel makers selling solar panels in New Hampshire to submit plans to manage their panels until they expire, with the goal of recycling or reusing the PV modules at an 85% rate.
Manufacturers would have to show how they would fund these plans and could face a fee of up to $ 10,000 if they do not submit a stewardship plan. The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services would be able to collect a fee from manufacturers to fund the process of guiding, reviewing and approving the plan.
Plett’s effort looks like a bipartisan bill passed in Washington in 2017. While some terms regarding the stewardship agenda are almost identical between the two bills, the Washington bill was a broader effort to promote local renewable energy.
Representative Plett said it was important to consider the issues that solar panels can pose at the end of their life as solar becomes a more important industry in New Hampshire.
While the problem is not on the horizon just yet, he worries that in just 20 years the state will see many solar panels taken down.
“And I just want to make sure that all the precious things in there are recycled,” he said.
Dan Weeks, vice president of renewable energy company ReVision Energy, says that because the solar industry is so young in New Hampshire and there are so few solar panels, the state is “at decades “of having a significant amount of solar panels decommissioned.
And, he says, forcing the kind of requirements HB-1459 now puts on solar power manufacturers could have a detrimental effect on the availability and cost of solar panels, stifling an emerging industry in the state.
Given the background of Rep. Plett on energy policy, including the introduction HB 225 last session, which Weeks said undermined net billingWeeks said he was skeptical of the intentions of the new solar recycling bill.
“I kind of wonder if he’s looking to solve a problem or put more barriers in the industry’s path,” he said.
But, Weeks said, it’s important to look at the long-term impacts of solar power.
Recycling solar panels can be more complicated than recycling a can, said Reagan Bissonnette, executive director of the Northeast Resource Recovery Association.
Some ongoing test projects for recycling solar panels are finding that dismantling and separating all of their components can cost more than what is kept in resources. And reuse could be an important alternative, she said.
“We want to make sure the incentives are in place to encourage reuse of solar panels instead of recycling them directly,” Bissonnette said.
Weeks said a coordinated national effort, with advice from organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Laboratory of Renewable Energies, could help create a robust recycling program for solar panels.
“It needs to be done in a thoughtful and coordinated manner that is not going to stifle solar power in any given state and not address the larger challenge of responsible recycling of solar panels nationwide,” he said. he declares.
Plett said the possible higher prices for solar panels if manufacturers were required to fund a recycling program in the state would reflect the true cost of the panels.
“And to the extent that it is disheartening: well,” he said. “No product should do this without reflecting all of its externalities. And I know people will say that fossil fuels have a lot of externalities that are also not taken into account. But I can only worry about one thing at a time.