Solar Panel Recycling

Solar Panel Recycling

As of now, solar energy holds a significant share of 23% considering the overall global energy market. Since the early 2000s, we could witness an exceptional growth rate in the deployment of solar energy. It’s great that raising awareness among people towards the green world has resulted in the number of solar panel installations around the world.

However, the question that arises now is what happens to solar panels after their estimated life span of around 25 years. Although it is fair to see a huge number of solar panels being installed across the UAE, still it is the question of how they are disposed of. And the excellent answer here is solar panel recycling gives new life to the materials that are embedded in dead solar panels.

LifeSpan Of Solar Panels

The average lifespan of solar panels as per the solar industry guide revolves around 25-30 years. These are the years when solar modules are considered as ‘useful’. Even though the panels can continue generating electricity after this prescribed year, there will be degradation in terms of the efficiency of the panels. The degradation rate is estimated to be 1% every year.

Solar Panel Recycling

When it comes to the doubt of whether solar modules can be recycled, the answer is ‘Yes’. If you ever have been wondering what will happen to solar panels when they are unable to generate electricity or dead, you can reuse them. Solar panels can be recycled and reusable, but the thing here is the process involved in recycling is a little bit complex.

There are some toxic substances present in solar panels. Such elements carry harmful effects on the environment if they are disposed of in landfills. In contrast to the fact that solar energy is sustainable, disposal of solar panels may end up becoming a danger to the earth. So, the right solution here is solar panel recycling.

When the solar panels reach their End-of-life (EoL) after their life period, there will be a massive number of solar panels remaining as waste. An overall figure of solar panel waste expected is 12.3 Million Metric Tonnes (MMT) in 2040, which is 1.35 MMT, as of now.

To put it simply, despite the fact that ramping up solar energy generation is a good sign, emphasis on solar panel recycling becomes the need of the hour.

Segmentation Of Solar Panel Recycling

Solar Panel Recycling, Type Outlook

  • Silicon
  • Thin-film
  • Monocrystalline
  • Polycrystalline

Solar Panel Recycling, based on Process Outlook

  • Thermal
  • Mechanical
  • Laser

Solar Panel Recycling, Based On Shelf Life Outlook

  • Early loss
  • Normal loss

Solar Panel Recycling, Based On Geography

  • South Africa
  • Egypt
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Rest of the Middle East and Africa

Review On Solar Panel Recycling – Peak Into The Second Life Of PV Modules

Most solar panels of today are made up of crystalline silicon, a semiconductor material. The interconnected solar cells of panels are enclosed in plastic and they are sandwiched between glass and a back sheet, in order to withstand decades of exposure. A metal frame, mostly composed of aluminum covers the entire setup. A junction box that contains external copper wiring is presented at the back of the panels.

Let us see into the actual process of recycling solar panels:

  1. Delamination
  2. Material separation
  3. Material extraction and purification
  • The recycling process commences with the removal of the frame, wires, and junction box
  • Panels are shredded, sorted, and then separated
  • Based on the materials, they will be sent to the specific recycling process

The above steps are the process carried out for crystalline silicon panels. Different methods are followed based on the type of panels. Some methods are still in the research stage. The impurity level is the major concern dealt with solar panel recycling. If the materials can be recovered without impurities, they are expected to hold a higher value in the solar panel recycling market.

Solar Panel Recycling In The Gulf Region

There are new and considerable steps being taken towards solar panel energy in the Middle East and Asia regions. Especially, in the UAE, it is anticipated to observe a growth rate of 50% in the years to come. This probably will pave the way for nearly 5000 tonnes of waste solar panels, which needs major consideration.

As per the global solar panel recycling market, the value projected is expected to reach around USD 477.74 Million by 2032, and at a CAGR of approximately 12.9% in the forecast period between 2023 and 2032.

With an increase in the volume of end-of-life solar panels, Europe holds a dominant position in the solar panel recycling market. There has been an exclusive partnership between Averda and Dubai Municipality in 2016. This project involves the recycling center with solar panels that assures energy efficiency and the least environmental impact. This recycling center is remotely monitored and likely to fulfill strategic objectives of solar panel recycling across the UAE.

 Future Of Solar With Solar Panel Recycling

Just like any other product, solar panel disposal is not so environmentally friendly. However, solar panel recycling helps in keeping harmful materials out of landfills and staying away from dangers to the environment. Of course, this recycling process involves complexity, yet, it holds prominence in keeping the earth away from harmful impacts.


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