PV module recycling partnership
Canadian Solar Australia and Reclaim PV Recycling have pledged to a recycling program for old and damaged solar panels in Australia. As part of the initiative, Canadian Solar will promote the voluntary take-back and recycle program for end-of-life solar panels.
Daniel Ruoss, country manager for Canadian Solar Australia, explained, “During their lifespan, modules may experience damage in various ways, including vandalism or as a result of extreme weather events that exceed the manufacturer’s guarantee specifications and warranty. Any such, PV panel needs to be properly disposed of and the valuable components recycled.”
Canadian Solar’s PV panels are said to have a guaranteed lifespan of 25 to 30 years, and experience in the field shows that up to 40 years is possible. But even after a serviceable life of decades, the materials of a solar panel have value. Crystalline solar panels are manufactured using few components — predominantly aluminium, glass and silicon — and over 90% of a panel’s weight can be recycled.
The new partnership is expected to start an efficient recycling system that will greatly decrease the overall environmental footprint of solar modules and build awareness for sustainable waste management in Australia. It will ensure that discarded, unsafe (often counterfeit or poor quality) or damaged panels can be recycled either into another format of solar modules or completely different items.
“Our goal is to achieve the least environmental impact whilst gaining the most valuable yield,” said Reclaim PV Recycling Co-Director Clive Fleming. “The example we use is: if you have a dozen eggs in a carton and two of the eggs are broken, do you discard the entire carton of eggs, or do you remove the good eggs from the carton and use them? At Reclaim, we have developed a unique process of reclaiming efficient cells from damaged solar modules. By removing the good cells, we can reduce the amount of energy needed to effectively recycle solar cells.”
Working with a team at Flinders University to develop the best practice for recycling PV modules, Reclaim PV Recycling has developed a scalable model in accordance with projections for end-of-life modules. The company provides a streamlined component recovery system that is said to be accessible for any manufacturer.
Ruoss concluded, “Canadian Solar is very pleased to enter this partnership with Reclaim PV Recycling and hope that many other PV panel manufacturers follow our lead and commit to environmental excellence and sustainability.”
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