Assemblyman Andy Goodell has proposed legislation A.8353 that would require developers of wind and solar power to post a financial bond to ensure the proper recycling of solar and wind projects at the end of their useful life. The legislation is sponsored in the senate by Senator George Borrello (S-07420).
The reclamation bond would be financial security in an amount that is sufficient to ensure the proper recycling of the solar or wind project.
Wind turbine blades, which can be longer than a Boing 747 wing, last an average of about 25 to 30 years before needing to be replaced. These blades become expensive to dispose of and are of little scrap value because they are almost impossible to recycle. As a result, many wind turbine blades end up in landfills, and some are downcycled into cement products.
Solar panels also last an average of about 25 to 30 years until their solar energy production declines significantly below the original production levels. At that time, the solar panels need to be replaced or removed. Solar panels consist of many parts that need to be separated and recycled in a unique way. This process is complicated and expensive, making solar panels very difficult to recycle.
The New York Environmental Conservation Law requires reclamation bonds for natural gas wells, gravel pits, mining operations, and other activities with a substantial reclamation cost. However, this is no such requirement for solar or wind projects. Because of this, there is a significant possibility that the owner of the solar or wind project may lack the financial ability to properly reclaim the project at its’ conclusion.
This legislation is necessary because it includes the reclamation bond in the overall project cost, which ensures that funds to properly decommission, recycle, or reclaim these projects will be available at the conclusion of them.