October 18, 2017

Solar Panel Recycling: An Important Consideration

Blog Image

The solar power industry is growing at a phenomenal rate.  Due to the rapidly diminishing cost, length of usable life, and benefits to the environment, the rate of growth is already exceeding expectations.  

The Benefits of Solar Panel Use

The use of solar power is great for the environment. Solar power generates electricity from the sun without greenhouse gas emissions, and unlike fossil fuels, there is no risk of fuel price spikes. According to the Department of Energy, the overall cost of solar power has already hit the goal that was set for 2020!

The lifespan of most solar panels is at least 25 years. Most are guaranteed to function at a minimum of 80% even after that time. But what comes next for damaged solar panels, and those that have now reached the end of their useful life?

Solar Panel Recycling 

Simply tossing solar panels into a landfill could leach dangerous chemicals into soil and groundwater. PV (photovoltaic) panels should always be properly recycled by a company that is prepared to deal with the potentially hazardous chemicals inside. The overall goal of solar panel recycling is to recover as many raw material types as possible that can later be remanufactured into new products. This can be a tedious task as solar panels contain a wide variety of material types:

Glass – Recovered from the front panels

Aluminum – Recovered from the frame

Silicon Solar Cells - The synthetic materials that encapsulate the silicon solar cells:

                EVA – ethylene-vinyl acetate

                PVB – polyvinyl butyral

                Polyvinyl fluoride

Cadmium Telluride

Copper Indium Selenide

Cadmium Indium Gallium (DI) Selenide


Where can you recycle your PV panels?

ECS has been in the photovoltaic (PV) recycling business for over a decade and has anticipated the rapid growth of the industry by building infrastructure for the recycling of various panel types.

We work with numerous equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and various types of solar panel technologies. PV materials are typically fallout of the manufacturers’ process for the OEMs, but other materials come from installations performed by industry installers.

Since the industry is still fairly new, not many failed materials come from corporate, municipality or consumer installations at this point. However, ECS is geared up to handle this growing set of materials as the industry matures.