Solar energy: Are we there yet? Reflections on the future of solar panels

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A road leading to a sun and solar panel with a green energy city in the background

The solar panel has become emblematic of a future free of fossil fuels. Yet, solar power—like any climate solution—is not a simple one-and-done technology fix.

How solar panels are made, what they are made of, and what happens to them after they no longer function are all important but often overlooked questions. As solar panels become more affordable, answering questions like these has become an immediate concern for many sustainability scientists.

Come take a deep dive into solar panels alongside two leading researchers: Dr. Annick Anctil, Ph.D. '11 (GIS), an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Michigan State University, and Dr. Seth Hubbard, a professor of microsystem engineering and physics at RIT. Together, they will offer a two-part, complimentary presentation on the opportunities and challenges facing today’s solar industry.

Annick AnctilSeth Hubbard

A new sustainability seminar series at RIT

The first in a new seminar series hosted by RIT’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability, Drs. Anctil and Hubbard will lead an informative discussion that is perfect for anyone who wants to know more about where we are—and where we are heading—when it comes to solar panels as part of a clean-energy future. 

  • Solar panel technology—today and tomorrow: Dr. Hubbard will look closely at how the photovoltaic (PV) cells that power a solar panel work. He will explain the fundamental physics that drive the technologies commonly used in PV cells, as well as point to new innovations on the horizon.
  • A systems-level view of solar: Dr. Anctil will break down the global supply chain behind solar panels. She will trace the life cycle of the conventional solar panel, which begins with the raw materials extracted to manufacture it and ends when it’s no longer useful. While most panels go into landfills today, Dr. Anctil will discuss current options for recovering panels as part of a circular economy for renewable energy.
  • Audience Q&A: After the presentation, in-person and online attendees will be invited to participate in an interactive discussion with the presenters. In-person attendees will also have the opportunity to take part in a “meet and greet” after the seminar.

How to attend

Members of the RIT campus and the public are invited to attend this thought-provoking discussion in-person or online. Space is limited—attendees are asked to RSVP whether they will attend in person or online.

In-person at RIT
The seminar will take place in the auditorium on the ground floor of RIT’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability (SUS/building 81]). Please select “I will attend in person” when you RSVP.

Online (webinar-style)
To attend the seminar online, please be sure to select “I will attend online” when you RSVP.

Requesting interpreter services
Please be sure to check 'Interpreting services requested' when you RSVP.

Erin Hammond
Event Snapshot
When and Where
April 18, 2024
10:00 am - 11:15 am
Room/Location: 1130

Open to the Public

Interpreter Requested?


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