Elle there are many ways to make panels, they don’t need to contain rare earth elements, the technology of manufacture and design moves on just like any other that turns out to be useful.
There is no wear mechanism on panels, at least not the ones I know about. Of course they will have a lifetime, nothing lasts forever, though I am not sure where you got the figure for 30 years, sounds very specific.
That figure does apply to nuclear reactors though, it is the designed time for the radiation to eat through the walls of whichever container is built to contain the radioctive material used in fission plants.
30 years is typical, after which there is a process of clean-up required which costs more to complete safely than can ever budgeted for in a profitable system design, so most are left abandoned.
Did you know there are many more abandoned nuclear plants around the world, than ones still in operation?
Ask yourself how many are on ships, no longer used, lying rusting in various waters around the world, it is a subject most governments don’t like to talk about because no-one knows how to fix it, and sooner or later, those disasters will happen.
Thirty years is about the working lifetime of a human professional, long enough to get to retirement if you happen to be a someone instrumental in creating one or more nuclear plants. “Take the money and run”, comes to mind.
But we can’t blame people for doing that, it is the system of profit which is to blame.
Profit fits perfectly with doing the work of removing a fixed amount of energy rich resource from the Earth, and selling it for more than the cost of the work done to remove it, but it doesn’t change the fact that the energy was taken from Earth, energy which was put there for free by the sun.
There are some nice counters that tell us how much energy has been removed from Earth, they race up every day, hand-in-hand with what we call “world debt”, in fact, they appear the same, our debt actually makes sense as an energy debt to our planet.
My work as a systems engineer includes designing system lifecycles; solar is a very simple one, perfectly sustainable using a variety of collection technologies, the main ingredient for those made so far is silicon, a very abundant resource on Earth.
And the sun is the only true energy source, so it makes perfect sense to make use of it independently of the energy absorbed by Earth.
Regardless of efficiciency, there comes a point in solar implementation when further expansion of it can be funded entirely by the energy received from panels implemented earlier.
Beyond that point, the energy received is effectively free, and effectively infinitely scaleable.
Scarcity of energy is why we need batteries by the way. With no scarcity of energy, there is no need for batteries.
The effect of that on our world is literally to remove scarcity of all things including money, as we know, energy is money, especially proven by bitcoin, now mostly powered from solar, it remains very valuable.
When you think deeply about what profit means, you realise it depends entirely on being able to scarcify something in order to be able to force payment in return for supplying it.
Selling solar energy after the point of infinite scaleability would be like trying to sell water to other people standing under a waterfall; not possible, therefore the system of profit breaks down.
After that, the world economy has to move to a donation based one, where we still trade in markets, but it is only to put value on the things we think are important such as government, maybe, and holiday cruises, like we did when massive stimulus was first issued. We see true, finely grained democracy, right there in free money markets, with no need at all for party politics.
In the presence of massive stimulus, no-one bought oil, its price went negative for the first time in history, and we saw a spike of recovery of fish stocks, coral, and many other things normally dying on our planet, and everyone was happy to stay at home as long as might be needed, to kill a pest virus, but the stimulus did not continue, of course they claimed it could no longer be afforded.
There are many industries and professions dependent on the profit driven system, even banking, who will generate as much misinformation as possible against solar, because it threatens their liveliehood, their way of life.
But they needn’t worry, everyone wins, standing under an infinite solar energy-fall.
In that new world, cost is no longer an object, the oil supplied to fuel all combustion engines can be switched to hydrogen, clean but expensive in the old world, and we can stop buying plastics, replacing with glass for example, more expensive, but clean, and much more pretty.
The profit driven won’t be able to sell anything any more, but people will keep buying things, at least the things we really want in our world.
I don’t blame you, or anyone else, for thinking the way you think, shaped by our needs to survive by profit for thousands of years.
But it has to change now, and it will :)