Solar Panel Recycling – What Happens When Solar Panels Are Damaged or Retired? | Tick Tock Energy
With the cost of solar installations decreasing year after year, it’s easier than ever to provide clean, self-generated, renewable energy for homes and businesses. However, most people interested in solar energy are concerned about the longevity and environmental impact of unusable solar panels. Our customers want to be sure they’re buying a high-quality product and that there are warranties available…and we can’t blame them! Our solar sales consultants are often asked questions like, “what happens if my solar panels get old/become damaged/need replaced?” Rest assured, we have warranties and solutions for replacing panels. Read on for more information.
Another misconception is that “solar panels will end up in landfills and create massive amounts of waste.” Thankfully, there are solutions that offer nearly 100% recyclability of solar panels. There is the correct way to recycle panels that we support 100%. However, there is also a sloppy way, which we do not support, that recycles the metal frame while discarding the glass and cells. Tick Tock Energy works with a vendor that offers a 100% recycling solution. In this blog post, we take a deeper dive into solar recycling.
How Durable Are Solar Panels?
The solar industry is relatively young and panels last a long time, so the need for solar panel recycling has been steadily growing in the past 10 years as older solar panels near the end of their life cycle. The recycling of automotive windshields is a proven process and offers a solution to the solar panel industry as well. Solar panels are made like an automobile windshield and proper recycling of a solar panel is much like that of the laminated glass that protects the occupants of a car.
During the shipping and construction of large solar farms, there is often breakage rate of 1-3% percent of solar panels. These must be recycled. However, small commercial and residential solar companies typically don’t have to replace panels until end-of-life, which in most cases may not be for 25 to 40 years for the high-quality panels that Tick Tock Energy installs. Quality manufacturers make certain their solar panels are designed to withstand inclement weather, such as heavy snow, high winds, and hail.
What about Toxic Chemicals in Solar Panels?
The use of potentially toxic chemicals in solar panels is often a topic of discussion when it comes to the environmental impact of solar installations. Some companies do use panels made with exotic elements such as cadmium telluride and copper indium gallium selenide, which are hazardous if handled and disposed of improperly. However, most panels used in the marketplace are of the monocrystalline type and do not utilize materials that could result in hazardous waste in the future.
Tick Tock Energy uses monocrystalline type panels today and, prior to 2015, installed polycrystalline modules, which are similar to the mono-type. Monocrystalline solar cells are made from crystallized silicon and are environmentally friendly. Be sure to consult your solar installer and ask if they primarily use non-toxic solar products, such as monocrystalline panels. Also, inquire on how they are handling disposal of accidental breakage and recycling of panels.
How are Panels Recycled?
The increased viability of solar has led to concerns about what solar companies are doing to minimize waste generated from unusable solar panels. Tick Tock Energy works with the industry leading solar panel recycler that offers an easy and efficient solution for processing inoperable panels and repurposing them for recycling or refurbishment. Unusable solar panels are shipped to the recycling facility where they are evaluated for their usability. If the panel is fixable, they are then processed for repair and resale. A certification report is issued at the end for all refurbished solar panels.
In the unlikely case a panel is damaged or inoperable, or at the end of solar panel life, Tick Tock’s recycling vendor offers a solution to help minimize the environmental impact. Panels that are deemed unusable are processed for recycling. Nearly 72% of solar panels are glass. The glass from unusable panels is repurposed into everyday products for a variety of different industries. Whether it’s new solar panels, fillers, beads, containers, abrasives, fiberglass, etc. our recycler makes sure any glass recovered from solar panels are reused. Materials such as aluminum, copper and other precious metals are sent to a metal recycling facility for reuse as well.
All glass repurposing is done at our recycler’s facility, reducing the environmental impact of shipping unusable panels to another processing plant. Every other part of the panel is processed by industry partners, so none of the materials are sent to landfills. We are provided with a Certificate of Destruction for all the recycled materials to guarantee their unusable panels are not being sold back into the market.
Tick Tock Energy trademarked the phrase “Reduce-Produce-Manage®” describing the comprehensive approach to lowering energy use in homes and buildings. Like that motto, the famous phrase “Reduce-Reuse-Recycle” applies to solar panel recycling and our company is committed to this effort. With increasing demand for quality solar panels and interest in minimizing the environmental impact of the solar industry during the entire life cycle of solar system, Tick Tock Energy views this as a very important issue.
For more information on going solar, check out our other recent blog and news posts or give us a call today at (217) 994-9020.
By Craig Pals|2022-01-21T09:29:48-06:00November 18th, 2021|Tick Tock Energy Blog|Comments Off on Solar Panel Recycling – What Happens When Solar Panels Are Damaged or Retired? | Tick Tock Energy