“An artwork is never just the object; it is also the experience and its contextual impact, how it is used and enjoyed, and how it raises questions and changes ways of thinking and living. The Solar Panel Art Series does exactly that, and it is a great example of how to open up the discussion about renewable energy and the unequal distribution of energy today,” said Olafur Eliasson in a press release.

An artistic alternative to recycling photovoltaic panels

While raising funds for the Little Sun Foundation’s “Solar Kids School” program, “Solar Panel Art” raises questions about the thorny issue of recycling PV panels. While the environmental impacts of solar energy are widely known, the impact from the photovoltaic sector are far lesser known. The International Energy Agency predicts that close to 78 million tons of solar panels will have reached the end of their useful life by 2050. This phenomenon will result in the production of roughly 6 million tons of new solar e-waste per year.

While these figures seem worrying, photovoltaic sector producers throughout Europe are getting organised to limit the environmental impacts of this industry all along the production line, and especially in recycling. For instance, PV Cycle France collects and recycles old solar panels throughout France for free. Last year, this non-profit organization collected 280,000 panels that were no longer in use.

Staff writer