Environmental considerations often motivate people to choose solar energy. The 25- to 30-year productive lifespan of solar panels, however, raises the question of disposal and recycling. With so many solar panels going up worldwide, manufacturers, installers, and consumers will need to address the mass of physical waste produced by old solar equipment.
Materials in Solar Panels
Recycling programs aimed specifically at solar panel waste have the ability to recover the majority of panel materials, such as:
- Metal frames
- Silicon cells
Processing the metal and glass is an established process, but the silicon cells require special approaches that melt the silicon wafers to reclaim various elemental components. Economic incentives could motivate manufacturers to recapture the rare elements gallium and indium used in solar panels. Our planet only has small amounts of these vital elements.
A representative from GVEC Solar Services can answer your questions about long-term maintenance costs associated with solar panels. Our company installs affordable, custom photovoltaic systems for residents of the Gonzales region. We also help our customers access manufacturer rebates and tax credits meant to encourage the adoption of clean energy.
The Recycling Process
Regulators in Europe have encouraged solar panel manufacturers to develop recycling systems to manage the waste. The multi-step recycling system involves:
- Collection of old panels from customers
- Mechanical shredding of the panels
- Crushing of these shredded materials
- Reclamation of the glass and laminates
- Chemical treatments to separate metal and rare elements
In the United States, the Solar Energy Industries of America has taken steps to create a solar panel recycling ecosystem. Known as the PV Recycling Program, its members include recycling companies and solar panel manufacturers. They’re working to develop economical and environmentally safe waste solutions. This program is building a network of recycling vendors capable of accepting old panels from consumers.
GVEC Solar Services is committed to the long-term sustainability of solar energy for all of our customers. To talk to us about upgrading your property with clean solar energy, call us today. We perform sales, installation, repair, and maintenance in Gonzales.