The International Renewable Energy Agency points out that the world could be saddled with 78 million tonnes of solar panel waste by 2050, according to an Eco-Business report.
The report looks at how solar needs to go circular and keep design for recyclability in mind. Solar panels aren’t easy to recycle because photovoltaic modules are a medley of components such as stabilizing aluminum framing, power-transmitting wires, protective glass sheets and polymeric membranes, as well as electricity-generating silicon wafers and other metals. Therefore, recycling involves mechanical, thermal and chemical processes, making it tedious and expensive, the report notes.
For the circular economy of these materials to take off, industry players are calling for rules to mandate the recycling of solar panels.
Eco-Business has more:
Solar power systems are generally said to last about 25 to 30 years. But here’s a less widely known fact: Although their power capacities may dip by about 20 per cent over the course of a quarter-century, there is still potential to deploy them in regions starved of electricity supply, where they can be used for another 10 to 20 years.
This extension of their useful lives has implications for a world staring at a ticking solar time bomb.
Solar uptake is growing amid the need for zero-emission energy sources to fight climate change, but the flip side of the coin is an impending flood of decommissioned panels in the coming years, Eco-Business reported recently.