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How To Recycle A Solar Panel

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What happens to A Solar panel after its Stipulated life?

A solar panel has an expected lifespan of 25 to 30 years. Over the ears of its life, a solar panel incessantly works towards absorbing light from the sun and converting it into useful energy. As such, the performance of a solar panel degrades over its lifetime. A typical panel loses 10% of its efficiency during the first 10 years of its life which increases to around 20% over its next phase of life.

However, practically a panel loses only about 8% after its life of 25 years. Hence it is believed that lifespan of high-quality PV panels may even reach 30 to 40 years, though its efficiency will decline.

But what happens after the stipulated 25 or 30 or 40 years pass? No one will want to use panels with reduced efficiency. Hence it is imperative to change solar panels after their expected lifespan. But it is also important to dispose of the used panels in a prudent way. PV panel waste falls under the general waste category.

As solar panel technology becomes cheaper by the day, it is increasingly being used worldwide. It is estimated that there would be 60 million tons of PV panels waste by 2050.

Global Solar waste

A typical silicon/ thin film solar panel is made up of glass, plastic, aluminum, silicon, and metal. It is, therefore, necessary to adequately recycle all solar panel components. Here is how a solar panel should be recycled.

Panel Recycling

Source: Green Match

Silicon solar panels are most commonly used panels today. The process of silicon panel recycling starts with disassembling the product to separate aluminum and glass parts. Almost 95% of the glass can be reused, while metal parts are used for re-molding cell frames. The remaining part is exposed to high temperatures. The plastic evaporates in this process and the green hardware remains which can be reused.

Also, read Solar Panel Maintenance and Cleaning Companies & Costs

It is also important for panel manufacturers to use eco-friendly designs and eliminate using toxic materials while making panel components so that disposal/ recycling is easier. The main reason solar panel technology has gathered momentum is due to its green and anti-polluting credentials. It is important for users to act mindfully and not allow these used solar panels to accumulate as waste in landfills. It is estimated that about 96% of solar panel materials can be reused for new solar panel production. Solar waste management will not only create new employment opportunities but also prevent the environment from further pollution. Though there are few firms who do this process, it is an emerging business for new entrepreneurs who are looking for a rising opportunity!

Read more about Solar Panel Size


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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