Solar panel benefits are enormous. Utility cost savings, energy security for homeowners, and environmental preservation offer great value to the world. There’s little reason to wonder why solar technology has ballooned into the fastest-growing industry in the energy production subsector. Solar panels are very convenient, economically feasible for most homeowners, virtually maintenance-free, and rarely require repairs. Solar panel technology is much more efficient than the public grid. But what happens when the panels are past their lifespan? Can you recycle solar panels?
The Current Status of Solar Panel Recycling
The majority of solar panels in the United States have only been installed for about a decade (10 years), and the average life expectancy of quality solar panels is around 30 years. So, the currently installed solar panels can be expected to continue functioning well for many years to come. That means that the matter of what to do with them 20 years from now has not become an urgent priority yet.
Nevertheless, solar is an industry focused on sustainable solutions. So, as more and more solar panels replace the use of the public utility system, we can expect solar panel recycling to become a priority. As the time approaches when large numbers of solar panels need to be replaced, there will eventually be a vast volume of recyclable material from the panels that have aged out of their useful life. Disposing of the existing panels in an environmentally responsible way will become a widespread imperative, and recycling will be the obvious answer.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA) reportedly provided data from a 2016 study indicating that around 78 million tons of recyclable solar panel pieces and parts will become available for repurposing within the next 20 years or so. So, at last, the first solar panels installed will reach the end of their useful lives. According to the IREA study, the value of the recyclable materials will total many billions of dollars worldwide.
Can Solar Panels Be Recycled?
Reusable materials from recycled solar panels reportedly includes glass, which accounts for about 75% of solar panel and is around 95% recyclable. The other constituents of solar panels are silicon photovoltaic panels, plastic, and aluminum. All together, these make up around 22% of the panel, and each is mostly recyclable.
An increasing number of companies from coast to coast are contributing to the growth of solar systems and processes to recycle solar panels in the United States. These organizations help people sustainably dispose of their old solar panels and other solar energy system equipment, including panels, tracking systems, and solar batteries. It’s not exactly recycling, but is a good effort to prevent a lot of equipment from being dumped in landfills.
How Can Solarise Solar Help?
Solarise helps thousands of homeowners and businesses capture the power of solar panels every year. You can produce your own electricity to power your home completely or partially. Your Solarise engineer will custom configure a high-quality solar energy system that is ideal for your location, electricity usage, and budget and will serve your needs for decades to come.