Solar Cell Recycling: Why They Should Be Reused and Recycled

Millions of solar panels installed around Y2K will attain the end of life by 2030. As the UK eyes double the solar power assets, it adds a whopping number in the next 25-30 years. This poses a problem of expired solar panel management and a threat to inappropriate disposal into the landfills. Environmentalists and governmental agencies recommend solar cell recycling as the only possible solution in the current scenario.

According to the statistical reports by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the global solar power capacity is estimated to reach 4,500 GW by 2050. This urges the need for certified recyclers who can deal with out-of-date PV systems efficiently.

In this blog post on PV panel recycling, we highlight the eminence of repurposing old panels rather than discarding them into the garbage. 

UK Government Regulations on Solar Panels and Electrical Wastes  

Besides cutting the burden on over-piling landfills, PV recycling is a comprehensive responsibility to save the environment. Solar cells are grouped in Category 14 as the hazardous e-waste category by the government of the UK in its directive on Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations 2013. 

There are no laws imposed on solar panel disposal in the country. However, the government has issued guidelines for manufacturers, importers, and suppliers to collect defunct cells from customers. 

Adopting Solar Cell Recycling for Sustainable Future 

PV panel recycling is one of the most effective solutions to remove old installations without contamination or exposure to the environment. The expired solar panels contain valuable assets helpful for reuse in future production at minimal costs. 

Manufacturers, sellers, and importers are under pressure when it comes to deinstallation and recycling to reclaim useful components. This is where the demand for trained deinstallers gains the spotlight. Licensed solar cell recycling agencies feature an established recycling infrastructure for safe material extraction while minimising impact on the environment. 

The Impact of Global Solar Panel Recycling Market Growth on the Economy  

The global PV panel recycling attained a whopping $360.9 million market size in 2023. This is estimated to reach $1.7 billion by 2028. The projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of solar product recycling for the 2023-2028 forecast period is 36.8%. 

The surging solar energy market is paving the way for newer employment opportunities in the R&D, manufacturing, installation, and recycling industries. 

Why are PV Cells Considered Perilous for the Environment 

The solders and semiconductors in photovoltaic panels boast several metallic elements, including lead and cadmium. Soil contaminated with a high percentage of lead poses a threat to the crops. Lead compounds in the food chain can damage the gastrointestinal tract in humans. 

These toxic metals can severely affect the biodiversity of the planet. From imposing relentless neurological complications in vertebrates to diminishing the fertility rates in the flora and fauna, lead and cadmium have far-reaching consequences on the ecosystem. 

Can Lead and Cadmium Damage the Aquatic Landscape

Discarding PV cells in landfills increases the chances of polluting the adjacent aquatic ecosystems, especially during the rainy season. The concentration of lead and cadmium in waterbodies can boost reductase activity for biomass, chlorophyll, nitrate, and protein in water plants. Toxicity beyond the limit can reduce development and physiological activities. These metals can raise SOD and carotenoid levels in aquatic flora. 

Cadmium consumption is dangerous for fish, affecting their reproductive system, immunity, functionality, and structure of the tissues. Moreover, these compounds can enter the human system through the food chain. 

Do you want to remove defunct solar panels from your premises?

Contact Evolution Recycling, the leading company in the solar cell recycling scene in the country. We are certified solar panel recyclers and assort safe removal practices to prevent hazards and environmental impact.

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