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Solar Panels in Landfills- Start a Solar Panel Recycling Business Now!

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With more than a decade-long existence, the problem of recycling solar panels is now popping up. People are scared that panels will end up in landfills leading to more pollution when compared to their eco-friendly nature. Though panels have a useful life of 20-25 years, the process of solar panels disposal has already started. Panels are often destroyed in the process of transportation, installation, defective manufacturing, weather conditions, etc.

Solar Panels

Also read, The Advantages Of Solar Energy In Your Household

The solar panel itself is considered as primary waste while other components like inverters, wires, and mounting structures are regarded as secondary waste. A solar panel comprises metals and materials like tellurium, silver, quartz, and significant amounts of aluminum, indium, zinc, tin, and gallium. Note, solar panel waste is harmful to the environment due to toxic metals and minerals contents that may seep into the ground. This has raised the issue of how to dispose of solar panels in a way so as to reduce their overall carbon footprint, else we will be discussing the question “how green were solar panels” in the next decade. The EU is ahead in the process of collecting, handling, and management of PV waste. Washington and California have come up with extended producer responsibility (EPR) regulations. Australia, Japan, and South Korea are also brainstorming in this regard.

India has a mammoth target of achieving 100 GW by 2022 which will lead to large PV waste in the future. If the country does not take the matter seriously and acts proactively there will be an additional issue of PV landfills in the coming decades. It is expected that the market for raw materials recovered from solar panels could reach $450 million by 2030. Currently, only $3 is being recovered from a panel recovery while the whole process costs around $20-$30.

Five key points that India should learn from other countries:

A complete ban on landfills – Indian cities already have the alarming issue of growing landfills. We cannot afford solar panels further raising the pile.

Strong e-waste or renewable energy waste laws

Efficient infrastructure network – We need an efficient infrastructure network to bring down the recycling cost and make the process more efficient.

Increasing manufacturer responsibility – Manufacturers and developers should come forward to take responsibility for end-of-life solar panels. For instance, First Solar has its own thin-film recycling facility in the US.

R&D and new technology – Technology advancements, recycling processes to recover high-value metals and materials, making more efficient panels and solar components, etc. could be a few areas to improve and improvise so as to reduce the future impact of recycling PV parts.

PG

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 greensneha@yahoo.in

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