Solar panels stay productive for a long time, but they don’t last forever. While many models will remain efficient well beyond the 30 year mark, production does degrade over time. Eventually, you’ll want to replace them. But what happens to obsolete or damaged solar panels? Can they be recycled?
Yes! But the process isn’t as simple as recycling a soda can.
A solar panel is made of numerous interconnected parts. They have to be separated from one another before anything can be recycled. It starts with pulling off the metal frame, and stripping away the glass casing from the cells. Then there’s the more tedious work of extracting the rare metals and silicon cells.
Because the solar industry is relatively young, there are just a few locations that can recycle panels at this time. Recycle PV, and SEIA’s National PV Recycling Program already offer options for panel recycling. Manufacturers are also exploring the possibility of end-of-life recycling programs.
There are greener pastures on the horizon. Each year, more solar panels are installed across the country. These panels will eventually reach retirement age, and the surplus of recyclable materials will encourage innovation in the recycling process.
Solar panels have a ton to offer as a means of reducing your carbon footprint. They also offset their own environmental impact many times over by generating clean power 365 days a year, for decades. As well, they offer a viable path to reduced electric bills for homes and businesses.
As the solar industry continues to grow, we can expect more recycling locations to pop up all across the U.S.
If you’d like to learn more about solar power and find out if it’s a good fit for you, feel free to reach out to us. One of our experienced Renewable Energy Consultants will be happy to chat with you and answer your questions.