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.

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