NC Clean Energy Technology Center (Formerly the NC Solar Center) Overview
- Created in 1988 as a resource for renewable energy programs and information, training, technical assistance and applied research
- Operated by the College of Engineering at NC State University
- Primary funding sources:
- NCGA appropriations passed through the DEQ State Energy Program
- federal and state grants
- fee-for-service work
- Major Program Areas:
- Renewable Energy
- Clean Power & Efficiency
- Clean Transportation
- Economic Development
- Energy Policy
- Workforce Development
- Education & Outreach
- Are solar panels in North Carolina toxic?
- What about the end of the life of a solar facility?
- What about regulations?
Toxic Solar Panels/Modules
- 80+% glass and aluminum
- up to 10% silicon
- Remainder is primarily polymers and copper
- Lead in the solder in some modules is the only potentially hazardous material
- Passes EPA's Toxic Leaching Characteristics Procedure (TLCP) test - so non-hazardous and can be disposed of in landfills
Cadmium Telluride (CdTe)
- "Thin Film," 1⁄26 thickness of a human hair
- CdTe is solid and stable, insoluble in water
- Cd is waste byproduct of zinc refining
- Tested for safety during breakage
- Tested for safety during fire
- Modules pass the EPA TLCP test
End of Life of a Solar Facility
- When is the end of life?
- At 25 year module power warranty?
- Valuable grid connection
- Who is responsible?
- the PV system owner
- Leases require PV owner to remove
- What is the process to decommission?
- Salvage value vs. cost to decommission
- What happens to the modules?
- "...disposal of utility-scale CdTe PV modules in unlined landfills [common in developing countries] is unlikely to result in adverse health or environmental impacts."*
Typical Solar Facility Lease Decommissioning Language
"Tenant" is the solar facility owner. "Landlord" is the land owner.
Termination of Lease. Prior to the expiration or earlier termination of this Lease, Tenant shall restore the Land (and any other land or Landlord impacted by Tenant's use of the Premisse) to substantially its condition as of the Effective Date using prudent engineering practices and removing Tenant's Property (including, without limitation, all fencing, roads, solar panels and mounting, and other improvements or alterations) and any electrical or communication or other utility poles, lines and connections (unless such lines and connections are used in connection with other property owned by Landlord and Landlord gives written notice to Tenant at least ninety (90) days prior to the expiration or earlier termination of the Lease identifying the specific lines and connections to remain on the Premises). The removal and restoration shall be completed in a manner that does not materially and adversely affect the use of the Premises for farming purposes.
PC Module Recycling
- 90% - 95% of a PV module can be recycled into similar value and quality products
- Disposal volumes in US are not yet high enough to make deep recycling economically viable
- Lower-value recycling is very common in NC and US, resulting in small payment for modules
- PV Cycle is a voluntary industry-led initiative to collect and recycle en-of-life PV modules. Started in 2006, active acress EU
- First Solar takes back and recycles 100% of their modules
Solar Regulations in North Carolina
- NC Utilities Commission Certificate of Public Convenience & Necessity (CPCN)
- DEQ: approved Erosion and Sediment Control Plan (E/S) and a Stormwater permit
- Wetland delineation by Army Corp of Engineers
- Local jurisdiction requires a development permit
- Often a conditional Use Permit, requires notification and a public hearing
- NC Template Solar Ordinance (2013)
- 2014 survey of NC county solar regulation/ordinance
Summary of State Solar Decommissioning Policies
Statewide/federal decommissioning rules and financial security requirement under certain circumstances.
CA, HI, BLM (federal)
Statewide decommissioning rules apply under certain circumstances. No requirement to provide financial security.
Statewide optional certification process. Includes site restoration and financial security requirements.
Statewide requirement to submit a decommissioning plan under certain circumstances.
LA, NE, NH, OK, VT
No statewide policy; local government ordinances that address solar siting must address decommissioning.
No statewide policy; local government authority.
AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NC, NM, NV, NY, ND, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WV, WI, WY
This information is not intended to constitute legal advice. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Readers are encouraged to consult a private attorney for their individual legal questions. Since this information is changing rapidly, readers should note the publication date. This factsheet is a working paper and represents research in progress. For any comments, please contact Ted Feitshans, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publication date: May 13, 2016
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