Renewable energy solutions like solar are an answer to the unsustainable energy sources that generate most of the world’s power. Although the energy produced by renewables is sustainable, the environmental impact of a system’s components comes into question when it’s time for the system to retire. Solar panels have an average lifespan of 20-30 years, depending on the type of panel, so managing the disposal of the equipment parts is a faraway issue for most system owners. Since most expired items end up in landfills, it’s important to consider your disposal route for solar components before they reach the end of their lifespan.
Sustainability is at the heart of renewable energy; clean energy solutions are meant to help sustain our environment while sustaining our evolving lifestyles. Allowing system materials to pile up in landfills just poses another threat to the environment. For renewable energy systems to be a truly sustainable option, system owners must dispose of equipment responsibly. Solar power in particular requires thoughtful action since many panels are disposed of in landfills or put through improper recycling, in which some materials may be recovered while others are wasted.
Managing Expired Solar
It’s completely reasonable to replace parts of a solar power system when it suffers damage or inevitably ages past its optimal energy production. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), there are multiple sustainable methods for handling expired solar equipment.
Here are a few great options to consider when replacing solar panels.
Reuse: Outdated panels can continue generating energy, even if the efficiency is much lower than it used to be. These parts are still usable and can be repurposed for smaller solar projects for the remainder of their lifespan.
Refurbish: Panels that take minor damage have the potential to undergo repair. If still under warranty, damaged panels can be fixed instead of replaced entirely and go on to perform for their expected lifespan.
Recycle: Panels that have reached their usable limit, due to advanced age or irreparable damage, should be recycled so that the materials within can be used elsewhere when the original system has become obsolete.
Recycling Panels Responsibly
Recycling solar is more complex than recycling basic materials because there are several combined components. However, the process is well worth the effort. Panel materials such as silicon can be repurposed for electronics, batteries, and other technologies. This would not only save the material from being wasted, but it could also help to lower future production costs for new technologies. In addition to recovered silicon, other components including glass, wiring, and various metals can be repurposed for new uses. Most of these materials would simply be wasted in a landfill but a few minor substances, specifically lead and tin, threaten to contaminate the environment if they’re not disposed of properly.
Protecting Environment Together
At YellowLite, it’s part of our mission to create a sustainable world. Our customers choose solar for many reasons —among them is protecting the environment. As your system reaches the end of its life, please consider all of the responsible options available to preserve the environment and prevent waste.
Learn more about managing your solar energy system by speaking with a YellowLite consultant.
Call us at 216-333-1364
Email us on https://www.yellowlite.com/contact-us/