Just like wind turbines, solar panels are a growing and evolving form of renewable energy. The way solar panel modules are manufactured, however, can present challenges when it comes to recycling or reusing their materials. This is especially true as the components in the first-generation of panels near their end-of-life expectancy.

Most solar panels have a life expectancy of 25-30 years. And as the solar market grows, so will the volume of photovoltaic (PV) panels in need of disposal. According to MIT Technology Review, it’s estimated about 8 million metric tons of decommissioned solar panels could accumulate globally by 2030. That number could reach 80 million by 2050.

eeeSolar technology works by converting sunlight into electrical energy that can be used to generate electricity or be stored in batteries or using thermal storage. When the sun shines onto a solar panel, energy from the sunlight is absorbed by PV cells in the panel. This energy creates electrical charges that move in response to an internal electrical field in the cell, causing electricity to flow.

A solar panel is pieced together in layers and made up of PV cells, inverters, racking equipment and other components. Most of this material can be recycled, such as the glass and aluminum frame, which make up 80% of a typical PV panel. The difficulty lies with dismantling it. That’s because adhesives and sealants used to protect the panels from external elements makes breaking them apart challenging.

To read the full story, visit https://blog.burnsmcd.com/recycling-reusing-or-refurbishing-first-generation-solar-panels.
Author: Sindy Panagiotopoulos, Burns & McDonnell
Photo by Zbynek Burival on Unsplash