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At Lightsource bp, we’re committed to managing our solar farms throughout their entire life cycle, which is expected to be 40 years or more, including the end-of-life management of solar equipment. Lightsource bp is a member of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), an organization whose members are dedicated to responsible end-of-life management and are proactively developing collection and recycling processes for the solar industry as a whole. Additionally, Lightsource bp only works with responsible Tier 1 manufacturers, and we follow a rigorous procurement process when we select our preferred suppliers.
The solar industry is also working to minimize the up-front impact of manufacturing the systems that generate solar power while increasing the effectiveness of those products through constant technology innovation. And there is a growing market for resale of refurbished solar panels – many are put to use in charitable, or off-grid projects as some modules that are damaged, either in transit or due to weather, may be repaired for reuse.
Although PV panels produced today will have a useful life 30-35 years or more, the panels will inevitably reach their end-of-life. The disposal of solar products in the US, including any materials that need special handling, is governed by the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and each state has its own policies in place for safe waste disposal.
Importantly, recycling of solar equipment is increasingly possible as more recyclers accept modules. PV panels typically consist of glass, aluminum, copper, silver and semiconductor materials that can be successfully recovered and reused. By weight, more than 80 percent of a typical PV panel is glass and aluminum – both common and easy-to-recycle materials.
SEIA has created a national PV recycling member-based program that aggregates the services offered by recycling vendors and PV manufacturers, making it easier to select a cost-effective and environmentally responsible end-of-life management solution. With the industry working to optimize the recovery of materials in a PV panel, decades from now when today’s solar panels have reached their end-of-life, we anticipate even more advanced recycling methodologies to be available.
Learn more at the SEIA website: