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When the solar panels are dying? Recycling of solar panels

When the solar panels are dying? What to do after? Is it possible to recycle solar panels?


Alternative energy is realized as an eco friendly technology, but what happens to this technology, once they reach the end of their lifetime?


The solar industry, which is one of the biggest fields of the alternative energy sources, continues developing and fighting against the climate change. In 2008 5.5 GW capacities was installed in all over the world, which produced total 15 GW energy. The installed total capacity grew till 22 GW in 2013. The industry keeps going on today.

However, the experts are existed whether the solar energy is really as green as we imagine. In any case, it is manufactured in factories; it is demanding grow materials and can leave wastes, it has lifetime and after the lifetime, it has to be recycled, if not, it’s becoming a rubbish and no eco anymore.

The solar experts are sure: Manufacturers must have responsibility and recycle the manufactured solar panels after 25-30 years and more. For example, PV modules contain glass, aluminium, which may be successfully used for another production or even for solar panel.

The problem that the PV modules are not old enough and cannot provide enough volume to start recycling, so the PV recycling start-up has to start with collecting solar panels for a while and then open a manufacturing.

Anyway, this issue is so essential, that the European Commission undertook it and started development. The members of this commission have signed a joint declaration and accepted to collect minimum 65% of solar panels installed in Europe since 1990 and recycle the 85% of the waste.


So, from the view of the business: How are the PV panels recycled? Who will be responsible of following the PV module lifetime and collecting them?

  • The exploiter: The owners /houses or businesses/ are responsible to collect damaged or old solar panels and deliver to the PV recycling company.
  • The manufacturer and electronic companies: The manufacturer is responsible to collect the batteries, junction boxes and so on and recycle, reuse them.

From the view of the economy, the recycling company itself is interested in getting the recycling materials and will pay to organize the process of course, but will it be profitable for it?

Many economists and experts share that the PV recycling is not financially viable today, in the absence of a carbon price. It’s of course clear that the PV recycling is quite profitable for the PV manufacturer, but will it be ok from the view of carbon taxes or carbon prices.

However, many manufacturers have developed a plan: how to make a recycling just in the PV manufacturing process.

The First Solar is one of these companies which finance a PV recycling program.  They are separating the panel into glass, metal and electronics. The components are being recycled just in the factory and being reused for the PV module manufacturing.

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