But most people don’t think about recycling solar panels. PV panels last a long time, so this hasn’t been a major issue yet.
Why recycling solar panels matters
Still, solar panels will eventually wear out. And given that an important benefit of clean solar power is its sustainability, it would be counterproductive for solar panels to create waste or pollution.
We already have more than 227 gigawatts of solar installed worldwide, with more being installed all the time. That makes it all the more important to have a plan for recycling solar panels.
Eventually, we will have to deal with old panels. As solar becomes mainstream, it’s critical to ensure we have a way to keep those old solar panels from going into landfills.
We have a plan
So it’s good to know that the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has a plan to make solar energy even more sustainable.
SEIA just launched a first-of-its-kind national solar photovoltaic (PV) recycling program.
This is not just any recycling plan. Working alongside major solar manufacturers and installer-developers, SEIA has established a state-of-the-art network of cost-effective recyclers. These recyclers can responsibly manage solar PV waste and end-of-life disposal of the panels.
“Our goal is make the entire solar industry landfill-free,” said Tom Kimbis, SEIA’s interim president. “By establishing a national network of collection points, recycling facilities, and an easy-to-use consumer web portal, this proactive program will help drive down the cost of recycling for all parties involved. This means the environment wins and so do our solar consumers and companies.”
Reusing, not just recycling
How recyclable are solar panels? As it turns out, PV panels are made of mostly very recyclable materials, including glass and aluminum. It’s easy to recover and reuse these materials at the end of a panel’s useful life.
Solar is all about preserving our future. By making solar panel recycling solutions more affordable and accessible to consumers, SEIA’s program will help ensure that today’s clean energy solutions don’t create a future waste burden.
The program goes beyond just recycling. It’s really about reusing, which is an even more sustainable goal. SEIA’s goal is to create a long-term global circular economy.
With that in mind, SEIA is investing in research and development on recycling technologies. They’re looking at how to repurpose the components of solar panels into new products for a better future. In this way, they plan to give the panels a “new life” after their decades of service producing clean energy.
To learn more about the national PV recycling program, go to www.seia.org/recycling.