5 Common Issues With Solar Panels

Here are the top issues with solar panels according to experts

Solar panel manufacturers promise industry-leading quality standards for their manufacturing processes. However, it is not uncommon for some solar panels to run into problems. Learn here about the 5 common issues with solar panels.

Internal Corrosion Due To Moisture

  • The solar panels consist of several components such as glass, EVA, solar cells, and the backsheet. If these components are not assembled to be air and water-tight, some moisture might penetrate through. Another reason for moisture getting inside the panels is faulty lamination.

Internal corrosion degrades the electrical components inside the solar panel. This degradation will result in a decrease in efficiency as well as a short-circuit. If this issue is not identified and fixed soon, the entire solar panel will become unusable.

Solar Inverter Issues

  • issues with solar panelsThe electricity generated by the solar panels is direct current (DC) whereas the electricity supplied by the utility grid is alternating current (AC). The majority of our electrical appliances are only compatible with AC. To fix this compatibility issue, a solar inverter is used that converts DC into AC.

Solar inverters are not cheap, and they don’t have a long life either. While solar panels can work at the same efficiency for 30 years, solar inverters start degrading anytime between 5 – 15 years. This degradation is visible as poor output current and voltage. Solar inverters cannot be repaired. It is advisable to get them recycled and replaced.

Micro-Cracks

  • Micro-cracks can appear in the solar panels for a variety of reasons, and may not be noticeable until a thorough visual and performance inspection is carried out. These reasons include solar module production issues, poor handling of solar panels, improper packing and loading of solar panels, and installation by an uncertified professional.

Solar cells are installed in a series circuit inside the solar panel, so a micro-crack in one cell will affect the entire module. This results in about 2-3% lower performance than expected. Micro-cracks can’t be repaired and the solar panel will have to be replaced. It is advisable to check with your manufacturer for their warranty policy.

Hot-Spots

  • An improper welding connection between the solar cell and the bus bar causes problems for the solar panel. This bad connection at first causes high resistance, which leads to a short circuit. The area where the bad connection is present is known as a hot spot.

Hot spots not only damage the solar panel’s components such as EVA and backsheet, but they also decrease its output performance. The high resistance, as mentioned above, might cause a fire and permanently damage the solar panels. Hot spots cannot be fixed and the solar panel has to be replaced.

Snail-Trail Contamination

Snail trails are brown lines that might show up on a solar panel. One of the major reasons for a snail trail to form is a defective silver paste. Silver paste is used in the assembly and manufacture of solar panels. This defect causes moisture to seep through inside and results in oxidation. Micro-cracks may also result in snail trails in the solar panel.

Snail trails don’t usually form until a few years have passed since the panel has been installed. Snail trails cause performance issues and result in permanent damage. As snail trails can’t be repaired, the solar panel has to be replaced.

Each year millions of solar panels and components end up in landfills causing pollution and irreversible damage to the environment. If you are looking for an environmentally sustainable way to get rid of your solar panels, then get in touch with PV2 Recycle today. We are one of the best solar panel recycling service providers. Contact us today at info@pv2recycle.com for more information.

3 Major Types of Solar Systems – Components, Features, and Applicability

What are the major types of solar systems available today?

In the previous article, we discussed the features and working of an off-grid solar power system. Let us now see how it compares to the other two types of systems i.e. grid-tied and hybrid solar power systems.

Grid-tied Solar Power System

  • This is the most common type of solar system that is usually found in industrial, commercial, and residential units. As the name depicts, the solar power system is connected to the conventional utility grid which provides electricity to the customers. When sunlight hits the panels, electricity is produced which is consumed by all the connected appliances.

When the generation exceeds the consumption, the excess power is supplied back to the utility company. Hence, grid-tied solar systems are equipped with a bi-directional meter that measures the energy consumption and the export of excess energy back to the grid.

  • In most cases, the excess energy compensates for the times when energy production falls short of the generation demands. This balance of energy on both ends is maintained under a scheme known as net metering.

Grid-tied solar systems are not equipped with energy storage units i.e. batteries. These systems have a few panels, wiring boxes, and an inverter. These systems are most suited for commercial and industrial units that have strong grid connectivity and their energy requirement is very high.

Let us take a look at some pros and cons of grid-tied solar power systems.

Advantages

  • Grid-tied systems are quite low-maintenance, hence they don’t have much operating cost.
  • They have two sources of energy i.e. solar power and the utility grid. This ensures a continuous supply of electricity even when one of the sources is not functional.
  • Selling excess energy to the grid through the process of net metering has considerable financial advantages.

Disadvantages

  • A major disadvantage of grid-tied solar systems is that they do not have storage units. If both the utility grid and solar system are not operational, then you will be left without electricity.

Hybrid Solar Power System

  • This is the third type of solar power system which is quite similar to grid-tied systems. However, the major difference lies in the fact that hybrid solar power systems are equipped with a battery backup. When the electric production exceeds the demand, the extra energy is directed to the batteries where it is stored for later use. After the batteries have been charged, any excess energy is given back to the grid.

major types of solar systemsThese systems are most suited for homes, offices, microgrids, and rural areas where the electricity demand is not too high i.e. not more than 50 KW. Hybrid systems are usually more costly as they require some extra components i.e. a charge controller and a battery bank. These components are not needed in the case of grid-tied systems.

Following are the advantages and disadvantages of hybrid solar systems:

Advantages

  • Due to the presence of battery backup, these systems are highly reliable. If both the grid and solar system are not functional, batteries can provide backup for an extended number of hours.
  • If the solar system is not working, then batteries can act as the primary source of power, rather than taking electricity from the grid. This can result in considerable cost savings.

Disadvantages

  • The operational cost of the system is high because batteries need to be changed regularly. The capital cost is also high because these systems require additional equipment.

Irrespective of the type of solar system, all solar panels have a limited life after which their efficiency decreases drastically. Reuse and recycling are the most suitable waste disposal solutions available for end-of-life solar panels. If you are looking for reliable solar panel recycling solutions, contact PV2 Recycle.

We offer large-scale solar panel recycling services for businesses. To avail of our services, visit our website and write to us at info@pv2recycle.com. Our recycling services are compliant with all federal and state-level regulations.

How Solar Energy Came to Be?

Learn the history – how solar energy came to be?

In the previous article, we discussed the history of solar energy and the development of solar panels. The first commercially viable solar panel was developed in 1956 at Bell Labs, New Jersey. Let us further explore the history behind the wide-scale acceptance and proliferation of solar energy in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Geopolitical Instability – The Precursor for The Need of Energy Independence

  • Certain geopolitical events such as the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973 caused an unprecedented shortage of oil in the USA and other countries. Oil had been the primary source of energy for all commercial activity. However, the inflation and shortage caused due to oil embargo instilled a sense of energy insecurity among both the government and masses. The perils of being dependent on foreign energy sources were felt across the entire nation.

During the phase of oil shortages, for the first time, solar panels were installed on the rooftop of the White House at the command of President Jimmy Carter. The installation of solar panels was symbolic of a new era of awareness about alternate energy and the government’s efforts and willingness to invest in alternate sources of energy.

Notable Events in The History of Solar Energy

Powering of Satellites Through Solar Energy

  • Before its wide-scale use on a commercial level, solar energy was used for powering satellites in outer space. Both American and Russian satellites such as Vanguard II, Explorer III, and Sputnik-3 deployed solar technology when launched in the year 1958. In 1964, NASA launched the first Nimbus spacecraft which was powered entirely by a 470-watt solar array.

Construction of First Solar Building in 1973

  • how solar energy came to beIn 1973, the first solar residence was constructed. It was named ‘Solar One’ and it operated on a combination of thermal solar power and PV power. In that sense, the building was powered by a hybrid supply of solar energy. Solar One was designed by The University of Delaware.

Advancements in Solar Technology – Improved Solar Conversion Efficiency

  • The primitive solar panel operated on a very low solar conversion efficiency of less than 5%. However, between 1957 to 1960, multiple experiments conducted by Hoffman Electronics led to the development of solar panels with an increased conversion efficiency of 8 to 14%. In 1985, the University of South Wales achieved another breakthrough by inventing silicon cells that boosted a conversion efficiency of 20%.

Currently, the highest efficiency of silicon cells is 34.5%. The University of South Wales is credited for the invention of these highly efficient solar cells.

Continuous Decrease in the Prices of Solar Technology

  • There has been a continuous and substantial decrease in the cost of solar technology over the past few decades. This has led to the wide-scale deployment of solar energy on a commercial scale and an increase in consumer demand as well. In 2021, solar PV with a generation capacity of 23.6 gigawatts (GW) was installed in the USA.

To get a more accurate estimation of the decrease in cost over the years, consider the following statistics:

  • In 1956, the cost of solar panels was $300/watt.
  • In 1975, this cost had dropped to $100/watt.
  • As of today, the cost of electricity generation through solar energy has dropped to $0.5/watt.
  • Since the year 1980, there has been a 10% decrease in the cost of solar panels each year.

This consistent decrease has increased the commercial viability of solar technology by manifolds.

PV2 offers large-scale solar panel recycling services for businesses. To avail of our services, visit our website and write to us at info@pv2recycle.com. Our recycling services are compliant with all federal and state-level regulations.

The Fascinating History of Solar Energy (Part 1)

How did solar panels come into being? Read everything and more about the history of solar energy

The past decade saw a rapid rise in the proliferation and dissemination of solar energy. Solar energy now occupies a dominant position in the global energy mix. It is the fastest-growing electricity source in the USA and its contribution to USA’s energy mix is 3.3 percent. Highly efficient solar panels and sophisticated solar systems are the results of immense technological advancements which happened over a couple of centuries.

In this article, let us explore the fascinating history of solar energy, when and how the first solar cell was invented, and other important milestones in the history of solar energy.

Use of Solar Energy in The Classical Age

  • Sun, a mysterious mass of blazing gasses, has been the chief source of light, heat, and energy for mankind. Humans have benefited from solar energy for as long as the 7th century. Back in that day, the sun’s rays were concentrated at a single point using the magnifying glass, for starting a fire.

The primitive man understood the importance of harnessing the thermal potential of the sun’s rays, hence he invented the sunroom. These rooms were created in a south-facing dimension which enabled direct exposure to sunlight. The famous Roman bathhouses are an example of sunrooms that were built for bathing and relaxing in a warm environment.

  • In the 18th and 19th centuries, the sun’s power was being used to power a steamboat. It was also being used for powering ovens on ships during long journeys taken by the sea.

When and How Was The First Solar Cell Invented?

  • history Solar energy panelsWhile early man harnessed the power of solar energy in its most primitive form, it was the discovery of the photovoltaic effect by the scientific community which led to the invention of solar cells.

French physicist Edmond Becquerel is credited for discovering the photovoltaic effect in 1839. While experimenting with a cell made of metal electrodes that were placed in a conducting solution, Becquerel observed the effect of light on the electricity generation of the solution. He concluded that cells produced more light when they were exposed to light.

  • In 1873, Willoughby Smith, an English Electrical Engineer, discovered the photoconductive properties of Selenium. Three years down the road, William Grylls Adams and Richard Evans Day established the relationship between the photoconductive properties of Selenium and the photovoltaic effect. When Selenium was exposed to light, it generated electricity.

In 1883, the first working solar cell was created by Charles Fritz, who was an American scientist. The first cell was created with Selenium. This prototype cell had a conversion efficiency of 2-5%. Despite its low efficiency and high cost, the invention of the first solar cell was a breakthrough in the history of solar panels.

Birth of The Modern Solar Cell

  • The first solar cell was made from Selenium. However, the commercial production of solar cells started in 1956 and they were made from silicon. In 1954 three American researchers David Chapin, Gerald Pearson, and Calvin Fuller created the first modern solar cell that was able to produce electricity using sunlight. The conversion efficiency of the first modern cell was approximately 11% and it was used for operating small electrical devices. The first modern solar cell was created at Bell Labs in New Jersey.

In its nascent stages, solar technology was quite expensive. The cost of electricity generation was estimated at $300/watt. The first commercial use of solar technology manifested in the form of solar cells which were used for running toys and radios. By the 1960s, solar equipment was also used for fuelling the outer-space satellites.

PV2 offers large-scale solar panel recycling services for businesses. To avail of our services, visit our website and write to us at info@pv2recycle.com. Our recycling services are compliant with all federal and state-level regulations.

5 Little Known Facts About Solar Energy That Will Surprise You

Here are a few facts about solar energy that you need to know

Sun has been the primary source of heat, light, and energy since the beginning of history. Solar energy has been used for heating, cooking, navigation, lighting, etc. However, the conversion of sunrays to electrical power through the photovoltaic effect was not achieved till 1883 when the first solar cell was created. Bell Laboratories can be credited for the commercial success and spread of solar power, by introducing the first commercially viable solar cell in 1954.

Ever since then, there has been an unprecedented growth in the uptake of solar energy on global, regional, and commercial levels. Today, solar energy represents the fastest-growing sector of the energy economy. Solar energy can be installed as stand-alone, decentralized setups or as large-scale commercial setups. This flexibility makes solar energy a viable solution for everyone.

In this article, let us take a look at some little-known yet interesting facts about solar power.

Solar Power Can Meet The Energy Needs of The Entire Humanity

  • facts about solar energySun is an inexhaustible source of power. The Earth receives an abundance of sunlight each day, so much so that if all the sunlight received in an hour is converted into electricity, the power generated can be sufficient to meet humanity’s electricity needs for the whole year.

To make things clearer, imagine that if the entire area of the Mojave Desert is covered with solar arrays, the energy produced in a day will be more than twice the annual electrical needs of the USA.

There Has Been A Drastic Decrease in The Cost of Solar Energy Over The Past 50 Years

  • One of the reasons for the rapid uptake of solar energy globally is the drastic decrease in the production and capital cost of solar equipment. To put things in perspective, a simple solar cell was priced at $77 in 1977.

Now the cost of the solar cell has been reduced to $0.21 per watt, whereas an assembled module is priced at $0.39 per watt. This indicates a whooping 365% decrease in the cost of a solar cell.

Solar Power is Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels

  • This may come as a surprise, but the overall cost of energy production through the solar system is a lot less than fossil fuels. On an unsubsidized basis, solar energy can cost as little as 4.3 cents/kWh. On the other hand, the energy produced from natural gas, which is the cheapest fossil fuel available, costs somewhere between 4.2 cents/kWh and 7.8 cents/kWh.

California Outshines All Other States

  • California, literally and figuratively, outshines all other US states when it comes to harnessing the sun’s energy for producing solar energy. It has the highest installed number of PV panels and as of 2020, California’s cumulative ability to produce solar energy is 29 gigawatts. Solar energy contributes 14% to the state’s solar energy mix which is the highest among all states of the USA.

Solar System Can be Built and Assembled in No Time

  • Among all sources of power, conventional and renewable, the solar system is the quickest to be built and assembled. If a country or region is hit by a natural disaster, the fastest way to provide electricity for the calamity-struck area is through the installation of a solar system.

One case in point is the situation in Puerto Rico. in 2017, devastating hurricanes destroyed the electricity infrastructure of the island. To overcome the electricity shortage, Tesla built multiple small solar power plants on the island. These power plants could store excess energy which came in handy during nights and on cloudy days.

  • In a few days, the disaster-struck population of Puerto Rico had an uninterrupted supply of electricity, thanks to small, decentralized solar power plants.

All types of solar panels have a limited life after which their efficiency decreases drastically. Reuse and recycling are the most suitable waste disposal solutions available for end-of-life solar panels. If you are looking for reliable solar panel recycling solutions, contact PV2 Recycle.

We offer large-scale solar panel recycling services for businesses. To avail of our services, visit our website and write to us at info@pv2recycle.com. Our recycling services are compliant with all federal and state-level regulations.

7 Various Types of Solar Panels and Their Characteristics (Part1)

Learn all about the types of solar panels available today

For centuries, fossil fuels such as coal, gas, and petroleum have been the conventional source of energy for mankind. However, they are finite in quantity, and their rate of replenishment is very slow compared to their consumption. On the other hand, solar energy is found in abundance because the sun offers an unlimited source of power.

The power-generation potential of solar energy is so high that the sun can generate enough energy in one day that would be sufficient for the entire humankind for 27 years. To tap the true potential of solar energy it is important to use the most suitable solar panels under optimal conditions of solar irradiation and temperature.

Research and advancements in modern technology have led to the development of different types of solar panels. In this article, let us explore the different types of solar panels, their characteristics, and how they differ from each other.

The various types of solar panels can be categorized as follows:

First Generation Solar Panels

  • First-generation solar panels are the first and oldest panels to be invented. They are divided into the following types:

Monocrystalline Solar Panels (Mono-SI)

  • types of solar panelsThese panels are made from silicon which is in its purest form. They are made from a single crystal of silicon. A telltale feature of monocrystalline solar panels is that the cells have a uniform dark look and have rounded edges. Due to the purity of silicon used in their formation, these panels have the highest conversion and efficiency rates. The latest models of monocrystalline solar panels have a conversion rate of 20% and above.

Monocrystalline solar panels have multiple advantages; they have higher outputs, are more durable, and can be adjusted in smaller spaces. They have better endurance to higher temperatures i.e. their conversion efficiency is less affected by temperature extremity. On the downside, monocrystalline solar panels are costlier than other panels.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels (Poly-SI)

  • Polycrystalline solar panels are made by melting multiple fragments of raw silicon to form wafers for the panel. This process is faster and cheaper hence polycrystalline panels have lower prices compared to monocrystalline panels. These panels have a blue hue and the panels are in the form of squares. Polycrystalline panels do not have sharp cut angles.

On the downside, polycrystalline panels have a lower conversion efficiency of 15%, are less durable and temperature extremities impact their conversion efficiency to a higher extent.

Second-Generation Solar Panels

  • Second-generation solar panels comprise of thin-film solar cells. They are commonly used in smaller solar systems and for integrated buildings.

Thin-Film Solar Cells (TFSC)

  • Thin-film solar panels are the more advanced form of first-generation solar panels. They are manufactured by assembling films of different photovoltaic materials onto a substrate. The photovoltaic material may comprise silicon, cadmium, or copper. Thin-film solar panels are inexpensive as less material is required for their production.

Some thin-film solar panels are malleable hence they can be placed in unconventional locations as well. They have a higher tolerance to temperature extremities. On the downside, their lifespan is much shorter than mono and polycrystalline solar panels and they require quite a lot of space to set up. This makes them unsuitable for residential spaces.

  • All types of solar panels have a limited life after which their efficiency decreases drastically. Reuse and recycling are the most suitable waste disposal solutions available for end-of-life solar panels. If you are looking for reliable solar panel recycling solutions, contact PV2 Recycle.

We offer large-scale solar panel recycling services for businesses. To avail of our services, visit our website and write to us at info@pv2recycle.com. Our recycling services are compliant with all federal and state-level regulations.

5 Amazing Benefits of Solar Energy That Make It Preferred Source of Power

Here are the top benefits of solar energy for businesses

Solar energy is a type of renewable energy that is produced by the action of photovoltaic cells. These cells work on the principle of the photovoltaic effect and harness the light and heat of the sun’s rays to convert them into electricity. Energy experts recommend the widespread use of solar energy because the sun’s rays are an infinite source of energy and unlike fossil fuels, they are not likely to diminish.

Environmentalists propagate the use of solar power solutions because no harmful gasses and byproducts are emitted during the energy production process. Let us take a look at some other amazing benefits of solar energy that make it the preferred source of power.

1. Energy Production Does Not Carry Any Cost

  • The sun’s rays are the only input required for the production of solar energy using photovoltaic panels. Hence, once the solar plant has been set up, the system will start producing electricity under optimal conditions of temperature and solar irradiance. Hence, the cost of electricity production is zero.

Solar systems do not require too much maintenance and routine maintenance such as keeping the panels clean from dust etc can be carried out by the owner himself. The only cost involved is due to the manufacture and installation of different components of the system.

2) No Long-Distance Transportation of Energy Required

  • benefits of solar energySolar systems can be installed at individual premises. This enables the owner to generate its own electricity. Grid-based electricity is produced at a central location and is then carried over long distances for distribution to subunits. Long-distance transportation and distribution cause energy loss and reduce the efficiency of energy.

The energy produced by decentralized rooftop solar systems does not need to be carried over long distances. Hence, all unnecessary losses are avoided.

3) Maximum Energy Is Produced During High Peak Demand Hours

  • High peak demand hours are usually concentrated between the slots of 11:00 am to 4:00 pm and then from 8 pm to 11 pm. Maximum energy is required by offices, industries, malls, homes, etc during this time. Grid-based systems charge an increased price per watt during the high peak demand hours. In the case of solar energy, maximum energy is produced between the time slot of 11 am to 4 pm.

Hence, the energy production coincides with maximum peak demand hours. The cost of electricity per watt remains constant throughout the day and no additional charges are imposed at any time during the day.

4) Fixed Production Cost

  • Energy prices are always going up and down due to market fluctuations and shifts in supply and demand. In the case of solar energy, the cost of production remains constant throughout the year. The sun shines throughout the year and the infrastructure needed for energy generation is quite simple. Hence with solar energy, no fluctuations in the cost are experienced by the users.

5. Flexible Installation

  • The solar system can be conveniently installed in the smallest of places. They can be installed in both vertical and horizontal spaces, granted that optimal solar irradiance is available for energy production. Additions can be made to an already installed solar system if the demand for energy production increases. This ease and flexibility of solar energy make it an ideal choice of energy, especially for remote areas where grid-based electricity cannot be supplied.

Due to its multiple advantages, solar energy will become the dominant source of energy in decades to come. However, to make it a truly sustainable source of energy, it is important to recycle end-of-life solar panels and other components as a means of effective waste management of solar waste.

To get the best solar panel recycling services, contact PV2 Recycle. We offer large-scale solar panel recycling services for businesses. To avail of our services, visit our website and write to us at info@pv2recycle.com. Our recycling services are compliant with all federal and state-level regulations.

Why is Solar Panel Recycling Important?

Solar panel recycling is immensely important – here’s why

Due to the growing environmental consciousness, the demand for solar energy is on the rise. Solar energy is an environmentally-sustainable source of energy that can eventually help in reducing Global Warming and its detrimental effects on the Earth. However, the question of the sustainable disposal of end-of-life solar panels poses a dilemma for the solar community.

Most solar panels have a useful life of 30 years after which their performance reduces considerably and they need to be replaced. These solar panels are then dumped in landfills as waste. If this practice continues, it is estimated that by 2050 the volume of solar waste generated will amount to 78 million tonnes. That is equal to 4 billion solar panels lying in landfills.

Most solar specialists agree that recycling and reusing end-of-life solar panels is the most financially and environmentally feasible waste disposal solution for end-of-life solar panels. It not only reduces the load on landfills but helps recover rare and valuable materials that are used for the manufacture of new solar panels.

In this article, let us explore the need for solar panel recycling and its multiple advantages.

Solar Panel Recycling Benefits The Environment

  • Multiple heavy metals like cadmium and lead are used in the manufacturing of solar panels. When the end-of-life solar panels are disposed of in landfills, the heavy metals leach out and contaminate the soil and water underneath the landfills. Heavy metals destroy the flora and fauna and are the leading causes of cancers.

Hence to protect the environment and to make solar power a truly sustainable source of energy, it is important to recycle the end-of-life solar panels and neutralize the harmful components.

Rare and Valuable Metals Are Recovered

  • Along with heavy metals, multiple rare elements like gallium and indium are also used in the manufacture of solar panels. These metals are found in trace amounts in the environment, hence they need to be conserved. Trace elements have a lot of utility in the electronics industry. When solar panels are subjected to recycling, the trace elements are recovered are used for the manufacture of new solar panels.

As per the findings of IRENA, by 2050, trace elements worth $15 billion can be recovered if all end-of-life solar panels undergo proper recycling processes. The financial benefit of recycling solar panels cannot be overstated.

Solar Panel Recycling Helps Businesses

solar panel recyclingMore than 10,000 solar companies are operating in the USA. Solar panel recycling gives a competitive edge to solar businesses in the following way:

  1. Companies that opt for solar panel recycling are the ones whose businesses adhere to all environmental standards. They can take credit for deploying environmentally sustainable processes in the end-of-life management of photovoltaic solar panels. This is important from a marketing and public relations viewpoint, as consumers are becoming environmentally conscious and are actively making environmentally beneficial choices.
  2. Shortly, environmental regulations will be imposed on the management of solar waste. These regulations are already in place in Europe and the same is expected for the USA. Businesses that are already making an effort to recycle their solar waste will be saved from making additional efforts and will have leverage over their competitors.
  3. Rare elements such as tellurium, gallium, indium, germanium, and silver present in thin films are recovered during the recycling processes. Manufacturing companies that recycle end-of-life solar panels can reuse these rare metals for the production of new panels and can save a considerable amount of money. It will also improve the sustainability of the solar panel supply chain.

PV2 Recycle offers large-scale solar panel recycling services for businesses. To avail of our services, visit our website and write to us at info@pv2recycle.com. Our recycling services are compliant with all federal and state-level regulations.

What Are Solar Panels Made of? Explaining the Essential Components

Solar recycling experts tell you what are solar panels made of

Solar panels use photovoltaic technology to convert solar energy into electrical power. Let us take a look at the essential components of a solar panel and how they function.

Solar PV Cells

  • The major functional component of the panels is solar photovoltaic cells. These cells work on the principle of the photovoltaic effect to convert sunlight into electricity. They are made of silicon which is a semiconductor. The efficiency of PV cells is dependent on the type of cells, their arrangement, and the characteristics of silicon used for manufacturing.

what are solar panels made ofAt the base of the PV cells lies a very thin wafer that is made from a positive p-type or negative n-type silicon. The base has a thickness of 0.1mm. Following are the three common types of solar panels:

  1. Monocrystalline silicon – Each PV cell is made of a single crystal of silicon.
  2. Polycrystalline silicon – PV cells are made of multiple fragments of silicon crystal that are fused together during the manufacture of the PV cells.
  3. Thin-film cells – thin layers of photovoltaic substances are placed over a substrate such as glass or plastic. Thin-film cells are used as flexible sheets.

Glass

  • High-strength tempered glass sheets having a thickness of 3-4 mm are placed on top of the PV cells. These sheets protect the delicate solar cells from temperature extremities and physical and mechanical damage. These glass sheets are designed to resist the impact of hailstones that have a minimum diameter of 1 inch and are blowing at a speed of 27 m/s or 60 mph. These parameters are set by IEC as a part of the minimum standard impact test.

Good quality solar panels use glass that has high transmissivity. The benefit of such type of glass is that it contains very little iron and has anti-reflective properties which reduce both glare and losses of light to the PV panels placed underneath.

Aluminum Frame

  • The aluminum frame provides a solid structure for the panel which enables the panel to mount on the ground. It laminates the sheets of the PV cells and protects their edges. The type of aluminum used for framing solar panels is lightweight, stiff, has high mechanical resistance, and can withstand extreme stress from blowing winds and other external forces.

EVA Film

  • EVA is short for ethylene-vinyl acetate. It is a highly transparent polymer that is used to enclose the PV cells and bind them in one place during the manufacturing process. EVA film acts as a protective coating and offers resistance against moisture loss and the ingress of dirt in between each photovoltaic cell. The EVA film should be durable and should be able to withstand extremities of both temperature and humidity.

EVA film present on either side of the PV cells acts as a shock absorber. It protects the cells and the wiring structure from vibrations felt due to the impact of hailstones and other physical objects. A high-quality EVA film also protects the cells from water ingress and prevents short-circuiting and other electrical failures.

Backsheet

  • As the name indicates, the backsheet is present at the rear end of the solar panels. It is made of a different polymer of plastic materials such as PP, PET, and PVF. The purpose of the backsheet is to protect the PV cells from UV rays, hailstones and other harsh environmental elements.

Almost all components of a solar panel can be recycled to a major degree. To avail of the most cost-effective and technologically-advanced solar panel recycling services, contact PV2 Recycle. Our recycling services are compliant with all federal and state-level regulations.

An Overview of Solar Panel Recycling

Here’s everything you need to know about solar panel recycling

Greenhouse gas emissions are the major culprit for the consistent rise of mean global temperature, leading to the phenomenon of Global Warming. It is the predecessor to unwanted climatic changes such as rising sea levels, heatwaves, tsunamis, floods, desertification, and much more.  There is a unanimous consensus that expanding solar production is the answer to curbing greenhouse gas emissions and battling the phenomenon of global warming.

More and more solar plants are being installed to produce clean and green energy. In 2019, 720 terawatt-hours of energy were produced by 46 million metric tons of solar panels. This figure equals 3% of the global electricity generation.

Solar panels have an average life of 25-30 years after which their production capacity decreases significantly. Due to their finite capacity to generate energy, a large number of panels end up as waste every day. While it is easy to discard them, disposing of them in landfills is not the most cost-effective and eco-friendly option.

The reason is that end-of-life solar panels contain multiple valuable materials that can be recovered and reused in the making of new panels. Panels also contain certain hazardous materials that cannot be allowed to leach into the ground. Hence, there is a growing need for recycling end-of-life solar panels.

In this article, let us explore the basics of solar panel recycling.

How Are Solar Panels Recycled? Understanding The Basics

solar panel recycling basicsMost crystalline-silicon solar panels are made of the following components:

  • Aluminum frame
  • Glass (silicon)
  • Copper wires
  • Silicon solar cells
  • Plastic junction box
  • Polymer layers as sealants

Most of these components can be recovered and are recyclable. Proper methods and techniques are already in place for the recycling of glass which comprises 75% of the solar panels. Aluminum, copper wire, and plastic junction can also be dismantled and recycled for further use.

  • Solar panels contain valuable and rare metals such as aluminum, tin, antimony, tellurium, gallium, and indium. These metals need to be recovered as well. Let us take a look at the different steps of the recycling process.

Recycling Process of Solar Panels

Different methods are used for recycling solar panels. The following basic steps are common to all these methods:

  1. Dismantling the solar panel and removing the frame and the junction box.
  2. Separating the glass and silicon wafer by subjecting them to thermal, mechanical, or chemical processes.
  3. Recovering specialty metals such as silver, tin, lead, copper by separating them from silicon cells. Chemical and electrical techniques are used for separation and purification.

Due to technical limitations and financial constraints, solar panel recycling is not being practiced on a wide scale. Efforts are being made to make the process more financially feasible. Glass, metal, and electronics are already recycled at a large scale. Proper methods and practices are in place to recover the maximum material.

  • The recyclable portion of the solar panel is subjected to crushing, shredding, and milling after removing the frame and junction box. The purpose of these processes is to recover glass, aluminum, and copper whereas silicon solar cells are incarcerated at a high temperature.

Thin-film cadmium-telluride solar panels have a different composition compared to crystalline-silicon solar panels. Their recycling process differs as well. When thin-film panels are recycled, additional steps are performed to recover the semiconductor material i.e. cadmium and tellerium along with glass and copper.

  • Solar panel recycling is the most financially-viable and eco-friendly way of disposing of solar panels. It not only reduces the load on landfills but also recovers valuable raw materials that cost thousands of dollars. PV2 Recycle offers the best large-scale solar panel recycling services which are compliant to all federal and state-level regulations. For more information, visit our website or write to us at info@pv2recycle.com