Solar Panels Recycling and Repurposing. All You Need To Know.
We live in a world of technology where humans are constantly struggling to meet the pace of science. Scientists are trying to provide humans with the best comfort level as well as all the possibilities that can lead to a prosperous and healthy life.
Every individual is so busy in making the best out of this technology that sometimes they forget to maintain the balance of nature and reality. It is very true that technology is a good servant but a bad master and so has been proven by the passing years.
In all this scenario, environmentalists and scientists try to impart the knowledge of a healthy environment among the people so that they can make the best out of the factors of sustainability.
One of the most important aspects of sustainability is recycling. Recycling is basically defined as the process of making the best out of the waste like to make out something usable from the things that we consider as no more to be used.
The phenomena of recycling can be observed in different aspects of life as many people are inclined to follow this technique in order to maintain a safe and healthy environment. Almost every field of life, nowadays, does come up with certain aspects of applications of recycling.
When we talk specifically about the energy sources, then the energy source which is most preferred by the scientists and environmentalist is the solar energy source because of its presence in abundant quantity and for this purpose, the introduction of solar cells and solar panels were made.
But, in all this, one question is; what to do when your solar panels or PV cells can do no more work, or you consider them not to be usable anymore?
For sure, you cannot keep them till the lifetime and that is something natural and understandable. Let’s explore if there is any procedure for the repurposing and recycling of solar PV panels:
Generally speaking, the solar panel, on the whole, cannot be recycled or repurposed as it is because of the availability of different and distinctive types of materials in it where each one of them holds a peculiar process of recycling.
So, it concludes that the recycling process of solar panels takes place in the integrated forms to transform them in recyclable materials and those forms can somehow be defined as enumerated below: (1)
- The recycling of glass:
With no doubt, solar panels constitute a large amount of glass in it which varies according to the types like; tempered glass, amorphous glass and some quantity of crystalline glass that can be made from the solar panels. There are distinctive procedures for the recycling of glass, depending upon the type, quantity, and certain other factors.
So, in this way, the glass on the solar panels can be recycled so that they can be used for the purpose of making up some new glass products which may belong to different categories.
- Wires and Cables:
As the main purpose of solar panels is to make use of UV rays to make electricity, they do come in hand with a variety of cables and wires.
Each cable and wire constitute of different types of elements with each having their own procedure of recycling. So, in this way, the components of wires or cables can be separated and repurposed accordingly for new and improved articles.
- Metallic Components:
Solar panels hold a small number of metallic components in it too. Metals can be recycled in several ways like it can be made to melt and remodeled into a new shape with the increments of new features that may meet the ultimate levels of diverse needs.
- Some miscellaneous stuff:
It is for sure that the composition of solar panels also comes up with the availability of certain miscellaneous substances, for example, which may include some amount of plastic, adhesives and all. All of them can be recycled in their own way, but the major difficulty is to separate them completely from the parents’ solar panel. (2)
- Silicon cells:
All in all, we have concluded that the minor aspects related to solar panels can be recycled in their distinctive ways but what about the main component of silicon?
Basically, the fact is that silicon wafers cannot be recycled as it is directly, but, yeah it can be kind of, be used in a way that companies and industries melt the silicon wafers under high temperature and then transform them into completely new elements or articles that fit in their demands.
So, in this way, we can say that Silicon cells are recycled. (3)
It is observed that the process of recycling thin-film solar cells is quite easy and inexpensive as compared to the recycling of photovoltaic silicon solar cells and modules; it is because of the difficult procedures of reusing or recycling Silicon component of the panels.
If we conclude this recycling process of solar panels in few sentences it would be something like this; the main calamity in the process of recycling or repurposing is the integration or separation of the different components of the Solar Panel as every component holds a distinctive process for its specific recycles. (4)
All in all, indeed recycling and repurposing of substances are promoted and considered as a positive impact on the environment, but the recycling or repurposing of solar panels can be quite an expensive sort of job because of the cost of recycling solar panels, but at the same time, this reason does not justify of the not recycling of solar cells.
So, the best way is to accumulate all these solar panels that are to be recycled in one place at the same time, so that the recycling process can be carried out at the exact same time, which will kind of reduce the cost and save the time as well as will take the outcomes more effectively.
So, are you ready to recycle or repurpose your solar panel? But, don’t forget that solar panels almost come with a life of 30 years, have you used it?
Leave a comment below with an answer.
P.S. If you find this post useful and interesting, please do not hesitate to share it.