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Sunny and Spinny, the ballet of solar panels and wind turbines

Circular Economy

By: Davide Colombo;

Sunny and Spinny, the ballet of solar panels and wind turbines

My first theatrical experience was attending The Supplicants
a well-known Greek play by Euripides. The first act, which was performed in the auditorium, opened with Theseus' mother Aethra praying before the altar of Demeter while surrounded by Argonian women whose sons had lost the war outside Thebes' gate and were thus ordered to be unburied by the city's besieged ruler, Creon. Chapter after chapter, I couldn't take my gaze away from the spectacle; the dancing was exquisite, and the plot was captivating. After that, I returned to the theatre, the last being "Swan Lake," a ballet composed by Russian Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. This ballet's history is significant because, although it started out as a failure due to a lack of appropriate public attention, its lovely nature won over hearts and minds, eventually making it one of the most well-known ballets of all time. When I initially learned about renewable energies, this motivated me. The ability to generate electric energy from mechanical or solar energy was what drew me in, and like the Russian masterpiece, it failed to capture the imagination of the general public or the market. The majority of the auditorium was dependent on fossil fuels, had a high carbon footprint, showed very little dedication to sustainability, and as a result, it was inevitable that the solar and energy implant would be viewed as a time and resource waster. Then, though, the music on stage began to gradually shift, moving from the heavy cadence of the tambourine and oboe to the gentler sounds of violins and harps. At this point, the themes of climate change and environmental responsibility began to take centre stage, and before the middle break even began, the public had already become enthralled with those hitherto unknown renewable energies.

Additionally, there are steps and an act to be seen and danced to, just like in any respectable ballet.
Let us begin to analyze the opera.
The solar panels scene is cadenced by five distinct steps:

The production phase brings the panel to life. Silicon, glass, aluminum, and other materials are sourced for manufacture. It is an energy-intensive procedure that should have been designed utilizing renewable energy to keep the carbon footprint in the life assessment cycle (LCA) as low as possible.

The installation and operation: in this section, the panels are put on rooftops or in solar farms and can generate electricity for an average of 25-30 years. This section places a strong emphasis on maintenance to maintain optimal performance. To keep the carbon footprint in the LCA below the average bar, transportation should be avoided using conventional means associated with carbon fossil fuel vehicles.

Panels are removed and deactivated at the end of their useful life, assuming no incidents or failures occurred. This is a critical step in ensuring the circularity and sustainability of the initial investment. The rejected panels must be delivered to recycling facilities.

The recycling stage involves two processes: mechanical and chemical. During the mechanical phase, automated systems shred the panels to separate glass, metals, and other components. Chemical procedures use solvents, but thermal methods purify materials by recovering important elements such as silicon. The waste products that cannot be recovered advance to the grand finale.

Waste management: Non-recyclable items are processed in accordance with local regulations. Remember, dumping and incineration should be the final resort.
The wind turbine, like a fresh ballerina,
enters the stage after the solar panel. Like the preceding solar panel, it is also composed of five parts:

The manufacturing stage: this involves extracting raw materials such as copper, fiberglass, steel, and other elements. Similar to solar panels, it's critical to keep carbon emissions to a minimum and to use recycled materials and green energy sources whenever possible. Here, every component is put together to form parts like towers, nacelles, and blades.

Installation and operation: here, the panels convert mechanical energy into electric energy over a 20–25-year period. Similar to solar panels, efficiency and safety depend on regular maintenance.

The end-of-life phase: the turbines are disassembled and deactivated during this phase, which is the counterpart of Solar's first.
The recycling portion: the other metal components are separated and shipped for recycling, while the blades are the focus of cutting-edge technologies designed for recycling fibreglass blades. Melting the metal and inserting it into a new process for reusable repair in other industries is the most typical usage for it (the metal parts are usually used to repair the boat hulls).

The trash management phase: once more, materials that could not be recycled circularly should be handled per local waste disposal laws while keeping an eye on EU and SDG guidelines.
At the ballet's conclusion,
Sunny and Spinny took over the theatre, leaving us to weigh the benefits and drawbacks. Maintaining an environmentally favourable design for wind turbines and solar panels is crucial for promoting circularity and preventing or reducing the amount of hazardous materials and components that wind up in landfills or storage facilities. The governments need to work together to draft laws and regulations that will allow this technology to be shared between states. Researchers and scientists will work to improve recycling techniques after the dismantling stage to prevent the majority of waste. This will be made easier by imposing an extended producer responsibility on both technologies, which will guarantee that manufacturers are accountable for the full life cycle of their products, including the recycling stage.

For solar panels and wind turbines to be truly ecologically friendly, sustainable methods must be used throughout their entire life cycle. End-of-life management procedures will be further enhanced by ongoing study and cooperation between businesses, governments, and environmental organizations. This is the only method that will lead to both a good theatrical composition and a more environmentally friendly method of energy production!