The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) plans on collaborating with companies like First Solar, SunPower, Flex, JinkoSolar, Panasonic, SolarCity, and Trina Solar as part of a new solar PV recycling program.
As SEIA published in mid-September, it has launched a first-of-its-kind national PV recycling program. Of note, this program is designed to ensure the sustainability of the US solar market.
In collaborating with major solar companies and developers, SEIA has established a state-of-the-art network of recyclers who are able to handle PV waste and the clean disposal of solar panels. Tom Kimbis, SEIA’s interim president, provided perspective to this venture:
“Our goal is make the entire solar industry landfill-free. By establishing a national network of collection points, recycling facilities and an easy-to-use consumer web portal, this proactive program will help drive down the cost of recycling for all parties involved. This means the environment wins and so do our solar consumers and companies.”
While PV panels can last for decades, they are mainly made up of easily recyclable materials such as glass and aluminum — which can be recovered and reused once a panel has run its course.
Marty Neese, SunPower chief operating officer, said: “As solar energy becomes mainstream, it’s critical that industry leaders focus on recycling and diverting waste from landfills. The SEIA recycling initiative complements SunPower’s holistic approach to sustainability centered on lean manufacturing and circular economy principles. Our innovative, high efficiency solar panels are Cradle-to-Cradle-Certified Silver. They are designed to work for more than 40 years and can be recycled at the end of their useful life.”
Alex Heard, senior vice president, global technical services at First Solar, added: “With more than 227GW of solar modules installed worldwide, recycling is important for all PV technologies and the sustainability of the industry as a whole. By making affordable PV recycling solutions more accessible to consumers, SEIA’s recycling program will help to ensure that today’s clean energy solutions do not pose a future waste burden.”
According to SEIA, solar photovoltaic systems, solar thermal, and concentrating solar power technologies have a life expectancy of upwards of 30 years. As the volume of solar installations in the US grows, the industry is planning ahead to create a national PV module recycling program.
SEIA reports its members are currently engaged in developing collection and recycling processes for the solar industry, and are committed to guiding both state and federal regulations that support safe and effective collection and recycling models.
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