RECYCLING SOLAR PANELS: CAN OLD SOLAR PANELS BE RECYCLED?
Posted On June 20, 2022
In today’s blog post, we’ll examine the question of whether and how solar panels can be recycled. There comes a time when you feel the solar panels are no longer as efficient as you bought them. This, of course would be after about 25-30 years of usage. After the solar panel’s life span has degraded, what happens next? Do you just discard them and purchase a new one? Or can they be recycled?
To start with; Yes, solar panels can be recycled. They can be recycled into other new products or a brand-new solar panel itself. The silicon or thin-film solar modules from which the panels are made such as aluminium, copper and glass are materials that aid recycling.
Why should you recycle old solar panels?
Recycling old solar panels is one of the ways of ensuring an environment void of pollution. One of the ways to maintain a clean environment is by recycling non-biodegradable products. Most of the components of solar panels are non-biodegradable.
For example, research shows that glass takes about one million years to biodegrade; plastic takes about one thousand years. Imagine the form of land pollution nuisance it will constitute if dumped in landfills.
How is this recycling done?
We have the recycling process that are being carried out by recycling stations and there are ways by which you can re-use the old solar panels.
The Solar Panels are made of 76% glass, 10% plastic, 8% aluminium, 5% silicon and 1% metal.. Each of these components can be separated into individual units and made into different products including a new solar panel.
The aluminium is removed
The plastic components undergo thermal processing of about 500 degrees Celsius to evaporate it from other components.
The glass is separated along a conveyor belt
The silicon wafers are smelted into reusable slabs.
These disassembling and manufacturing processes are done by recycling stations. You could sell it to them or have an agreement that they rebuild another for you while you add payment.
It might also interest you that there are other ways you can re-use your solar panels without necessarily selling them to recycling stations.
Ways to Re-use Old Solar Panels
Using them to build a centre table. Solar Panels have a glossy and attractive surface that can be used to create a centre table in your living room. All you have to do is weld some legs to it. Welding will not even be difficult since there is an aluminium compartment below the panels.
Leave them on your roof as a form of shade. The solar panels on your roof will prevent the direct ray of sunlight on your roof, thus minimizing heat in your home. You will appreciate that effect more during the dry season/summer.
Use them as insulators. You can use the old solar panels to build your walls. It will make the home eco-friendlier.
Create Greenhouses for plants. You would notice that most greenhouses are built with glass. Because Solar Panels are majorly made up of glass, they can be used to build these greenhouses.
They can still be relevant for short vacations. The fact that they are no longer 100% efficient does not mean that they cannot be used to charge small devices.
Therefore, Solar Panels, even after losing out on their effectiveness is not completely useless. It can be recycled.
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