“This is an impending crisis. This could be the next coal ash pollution problem.”

Becki Gray recently made this comment on NC SPIN’s online series “After SPIN.” The potential crisis Gray is the looming environmental issue of solar panel disposal. Solar panels contain toxic materials, and experts estimate the lifespan of solar panels at about 20 to 30 years. Gray comments that, since North Carolina’s solar industry is about 10 years old, it is only 10 to 20 years down the line that North Carolina will have to face this issue of recycling these solar panels in a sustainable way.

As Gray explains, this issue presents many questions:

How are we going to recycle them? Where are we going to recycle them? Who is going to pay for it? How are farmers going to be reimbursed?

Gray comments that this is a serious issue, particularly for North Carolina:

If you line [N.C. solar panels] up, they would go from Raleigh to San Francisco and back 7 times… The time to get things in place here to protect the environment [and] to offer certainty to investors in the solar industry is now.

N.C. Sen. Paul Newton, R-Cabarrus, is currently spearheading the resolution of this issue in the General Assembly this year.

Watch Becki’s comments in the full clip here. Learn more about solar energy here.