Bookmark and Share

How To Treat Solar Waste?

0 Comment

Solar Panels as a Threat?

As solar energy gathers ground all around the world, the question of how to treat solar waste is becoming inevitable. There was about 250,000 metric tonnes of global solar panel waste in 2016 and that number is expected to increase to 78 million metric tonnes by 2050 according to  International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). It is also estimated that solar panels produce 300 times more waste than nuclear reactors when producing the same amount of energy.

Most of the solar panel is made up of glass (99%) which is not easy to recycle, aluminum, encapsulants (synthetic material), silicon, and metals such as lead, copper, gallium and cadmium. Industry experts opine that toxic waste like lead, chromium, and cadmium from used solar panels can pose a threat to the environment. It is high time the industry starts thinking in this direction, otherwise solar waste will start filling up landfills and reverse all the positive effects it has had on the environment.

Also, read What to Consider When Installing Solar Panels

Solar Panels

Regulations for Proper Treatment of Solar Waste

Since application of solar panels has risen in the recent years, it will be a good act on the part of governments and the industry to have proper measures for solar waste treatment at the time of disposal to prevent further damage to the environment.

One of the main criticisms of solar panels is the lack of proper means to dispose them of. Europe requires the makers of solar panel to collect and dispose solar waste at the end of their useful lives. In many countries like India and China, citizens often burn e-waste to salvage expensive wires of copper. In case solar panels are burnt, they would result in toxic smoke which can lead to serious diseases when inhaled. It is, therefore, imperative to formulate strategic policies for proper treatment and disposal of solar waste. The major issue with such type of waste is that there is no set of guidelines to monitor and regulate their disposal. Further research should be directed towards manufacturing panels that are easy to disassemble and recycle. With a large and growing number of solar panel installations having a useful life of 25 years, there is little time left for proper policies indicating proper ways to treat solar waste.

You might also like: What is Rooftop Solar

Proper Recycling of Solar Panels

Proper recycling of used solar panels would involve separating these different materials and sort them for further usage. For example, glass and silicon could be reused either in panel manufacturing or other industrial uses. In fact, the European solar panel recycling association has drafted methods to reuse upto 95% of these used solar panels. Solar is a clean and green way to energy and with proper disposal policies should continue to be so!!


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

No Responses so far | Have Your Say!