Are Rare Earths Important for Making Solar Panels?

Views: 484     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2021-07-09      Origin: Site

We all know that more and more carbon dioxide has been emitted by human activities since the industrial revolution, and the trend of global warming has gradually accelerated. In order to slow down this situation, we must start to reduce carbon emissions. Therefore, many professionals put forward the idea of using clean energy.


Most people think that solar energy and wind energy are standard clean energy sources, and the use of these green energy sources can minimize environmental pollution. However, another problem has arisen: even if these clean energy sources are inexhaustible, we may not have enough materials to install solar and wind energy in large quantities, because the materials needed to make them are not unlimited.


solar photovoltaic panels 

Popular Machinery reported that if solar energy is to be used as part of the energy supply chain, it actually requires a lot of high-tech electronic components, such as solar panels, rechargeable batteries, digital meters, etc. However, these accessories all need specific rare metals, including strong magnetic neodymium, electronic indium and silver. These metals are not abundant in the earth's crust. They are bought and sold after large-scale mining in various countries around the world, forming a supply chain for various electronics and renewable energy companies.


1. Future Expectations for the Utilization of Rare Earths

A group of researchers in the Netherlands determined that if the global solar power generation installations are to be upgraded to replace existing fossil energy sources by 2050, the demand for certain metals such as neodymium and indium may increase more than ten times, far exceeding the current mining capacity.


The analysis predicts that by 2050, the indium required for solar panels and wind turbines must be about 12 times of the current production, and the demand for neodymium will increase by more than 7 times. However, this analysis is to put all resources into renewable energy sources, but these rare and precious metals are also very important in other industries, showing that the demand is much higher than the expectation.


This is definitely a serious problem, because the development of rare earth mines requires a lot of time and money. Moreover, it will take decades for new mines to operate.


solar photovoltaic panels 

2. Possible Solutions

One possible solution is "recycling". Today, many discarded solar electronic devices are not recycled. If we start recycling more high-tech solar components, we may be able to obtain enough rare metals by 2050.


However, there is another problem: recycling solar electronic equipment requires a lot of money. Resources and energy will be consumed no matter in the process of dissolution, electrode or smelting. Therefore, whether this solution can obtain benefits still needs further trial calculation.



solar panels

Rare earth resources have a great impact on the manufacturing of solar panels. The exploitation and utilization of rare earth resources determine whether solar energy can be used without limitation.

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