You can expect the lifespan to be even longer
So while this figure is the one solar power companies give, you can expect it to be a lot better. After all they have to cover themselves. Most studies on solar panel life expectancy peg the figure to be somewhere around 30 years. Either way, that’s a pretty long life for something that’s constantly exposed to the elements. Not to mention constantly absorbing the power of the sun directly.
Have you ever thought about what happens to solar panels once they reach the end of their respective life spans? Let’s see the possible outcomes here.
Recycling after the lifespan
Some countries impose a law about recycling solar panels upon reaching end of life. There is no such law in the US at the moment, save for the state of Washington. Still, there’s really nothing much for homeowners to do with spent solar panels anyway.
Recycling after the lifespan of solar panels is more complicated than it sounds. The panels are made up of a variety of components apart from the silicone panel material itself. It is actually these other components that necessitate recycling. There is a bunch of metal, wiring, and glass that can be stripped off the components. The silicon used for the panels themselves can still be melted down and turned into something else.
What are the options
The first option is for the manufacturers to do the recycling themselves Then there are also specialty companies that focus on recycling in order to minimize the waste from solar panel components. If you have access to one in your area, it might be worth checking them out.
Up-cycling after the end of the lifespan
In many cases, some parts of the panel are still usable, but it’s just more efficient to replace them. This is often done in larger industrial installations where entire groups of panels are involved. The result is that perfectly good panels are thrown out along with the defective sections.
One good example of up-cycling is a startup in Berlin which manages to utilize otherwise-defunct panels for various purposes. One example is using them to make power charging stations.
Instead of becoming e-wastes, the panels will find new purpose in a variety of creative applications. The upside is that they won’t be going to some landfill, adding to the tons of non-biodegradable waste. Hopefully other enterprising individuals can find their own creative ways to ‘up-cycle’ scrap panels instead of just disposing of them.
Unfortunately, there are still some countries where the prospective waste from solar power systems isn’t an issue. Most likely, these panels will end up in a landfill or some other waste disposal location.
Talk to your solar provider
Once one of your solar panels has reached the end of its life cycle, don’t throw it into the garbage bin. Check with your solar panel provider to see if they can pick up the non-functioning panel for recycling. Alternatively, take it to an proper facility for recycling.
Solar panels and their accompanying power systems are engineering marvels that will last for a considerably long time. Unfortunately, they’re not going to last forever. When your panels have served their purpose, you should at least know what options are available to you. Well, at least that’s still many years away!
Find out everything you want to know
For the finest and most experienced solar installations contact Renewable Energy Corporation. We are proud to offer the highest quality solar products and installations in Maryland, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Since 2009, our experienced solar panel installers have built many hundreds of commercial and residential solar energy systems. Manufacturing of our products is domestic, and production is sustainable.
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