What Happens to Defunct Solar Plants?

In most states, solar companies are required to provide an end-to-end plan for solar power installations.

1 minute read

January 29, 2024, 5:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Solar panels in a green field

Soonthorn Wongsaita / Solar farm

In an article for Inside Climate News, Dan Gearino describes a new report from NC Clean Energy Technology Center, “50 States of Solar Decommissioning,” which reviews state and local laws regarding how solar installations are managed after they are no longer in service.

According to the report, solar farms are generally built to last roughly 30 years. “Decommissioning a solar farm involves removing the panels, racks, wires and other equipment and taking actions to restore the ground to its previous state. The company doing the removal will sell much of the scrap to recyclers.” Land can usually be returned to agricultural or other uses. “In most places, developers must submit a plan for removal of the projects and take steps to guarantee that local communities will have minimal, if any, costs.”

Gearino adds, “As of the end of 2023, 20 states (including Texas) had statewide policies, and nine states (including California) had a hybrid of state and local rules” that regulate how solar farms are decommissioned.

Thursday, January 25, 2024 in Inside Climate News

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