Solar Panels became popular in the 2000s and have only increased in usage since then. Solar Panels last about 25-30 years, so they are about to hit their expiration mark. What happens after that is very important.
Solar Panels can be recycled and should be taken to a professional recycling company where they will properly recycle the individual materials. Solar Panels have materials that are very valuable but can become hazardous to the environment if not taken care of correctly.
Continue reading to learn about where to take your expired solar panel, and what will happen to it.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last
Solar Panels have become extremely popular in the past couple of decades, and for many reasons. They save energy, reduce energy bills, and are very beneficial to the environment. They are expensive initially but are worth it in the long run. Solar Panels last for about 20-30 years. Solar Panels are made to last long so that they can survive any weather conditions. They also don’t have any moving parts that break down or need regular maintenance. If you buy from the right company, have them checked regularly, change the batteries, and keep them clear of outside debris, your solar panels should last a long time. Once it reaches the end of its life, it’s time to recycle. (Source)
Where to Recycle Solar Panels
Once you know your solar panels are expired, have a solar company come and remove them. You don’t want to take the chance of damaging yourself or the solar panels during the removal process. Before calling a solar panel company and maying them, check to see if your warranty includes removal as well. Another option is if you choose to continue using solar power, you will need to get new ones installed. The new company may offer to remove the older solar panels for you. It’s always important to know what resources you have and make use of them. Removal of the panels will cost a couple of hundred dollars. (Source)
Once you have the solar panels off of your roof, it is time to find a local recycling factory, that recycles solar panels. Solar Panels are pretty new, so not every company has the ability or knowledge to recycle them correctly. Make sure to call your local recycling center to make sure they can do this process. There are several recycling companies across the country that specialize in recycling solar panels. It usually costs between $15 and $20 to recycle on 18 square foot module. (Source)
Solar Panel Recycling Process
The process of recycling solar panels is still very new and changing all the time. Right now there aren’t a lot of rules or regulations, state laws, or national laws on how to recycle solar panels, since it is such a new process. Companies are always improving programs and training their workers to recycle solar panels in the most efficient way possible
Solar Panels are made out of three main materials. 75% of the solar panel is glass, which recycling companies have plenty of experience with. Glass is easy to recycle, reuse and recycle for other products. The other two materials are silicone and metal. Within the metal is several different types of metal that need to be carefully taken care of and handled. The companies first take apart the panels by hand or machine, separating the glass from the frame and other materials. The rest of the recycling is done with chemical acids to separate the metal and break them down. These metals should not be ending up in a landfill, so it’s a very important step to break down the individual metals. (Source)
Importance of Solar Panel Recycling
Solar panels are made out of so many different parts, all parts that can be recycled or absolutely need to be recycled. Recycling solar panels can be very tricky and complicated since there are some hazardous materials involved. They need to be handled carefully and recyclers need to make sure they dispose of hazardous waste correctly. It’s very important to emphasize recycling solar panels, especially since it is so expensive. Users may be tempted to dispose of their old solar panels in a landfill but this is just hurting the environment. (Source)
The Future of Solar Panel Recycling
Professionals are predicting that the way we recycle is going to change a lot in the next decade. It’s difficult for recycling companies to put so much effort into one area, so the solar industry is developing programs for solar panel recycling. Since solar panels became popular in the 2000s and they last for 25-30 years, this means that they are just now starting to expire and need to be reused or recycled. A huge amount of solar panels are about to expire, and it’s important that we know how and when to recycle them. It has been predicted that there will be a mass need for solar panel recycling in 2030, and organizations are preparing. Research is being done at universities, and recycling facilities are being trained. (Source)
Experts say that the amount of people who have solar panels is only going to increase. Once all of these panels do start to expire, we will have a lot of waste on our hands. The International Renewable Energy Association says that solar energy will grow from 222 gigawatts in 2015 to 4500 gigawatts by 2050. This means that a huge percentage of the world’s energy will be solar. The solar industry is preparing for 2030 and beyond when we will have more solar panel materials to recycle. We will have lots of glass, silicone, and metals on our hands. We need to make sure we know what to do with it so that it isn’t all wasted and left for landfills. (Source)
Since solar panels are so complex we can’t recycle them on our own. We need to leave it up to the professionals in order to safely dispose of them. Efforts are being made daily to improve the solar panel recycling process.
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