How long do solar panels last? A question that most people have in mind when considering solar panels. According to studies, the life expectancy of solar panels is about 30 years before decommissioning.
During the life of photovoltaic panels, a 20 per cent decrease in power capacity might occur. Between the first 10 to 12 years, the maximum decrease in efficiency is 10 per cent, and 20 per cent when reaching 25 years. These figures are guaranteed by the majority of manufacturers.
Still, experience shows that, in reality, the efficiency drops by merely 6 to 8 per cent after 25 years. The lifespan of solar panels may thus be much longer than officially stated. The lifespan of high quality PV panels may even reach 30 to 40 years, and be still functional afterwards, though with decreasing efficacy.Solar Panel Waste:
In fact, if recycling processes were not put in place, there would be 60 million tons of PV panels waste lying in landfills by the year 2050; since all PV cells contain certain amount of toxic substances, that would truly become a not-so-sustainable way of sourcing energy.
The common belief of solar panels not being recyclable is, therefore, a myth. It is, however, a process that needs time to be widely implemented and requires further research to reach its full potential of adequately recycling all solar panel components. For that reason, it is necessary that designing and recycling units collaborate closely so that the ability to recycle is ensured by mindful eco-designsSolar Panel Recycling Processes:
There are two main types of solar panels, requiring different recycling approaches. Both types silicon based and thin-film based can be recycled using distinct industrial processes. Currently, silicon based panels are more common, though that does not mean that there would not be great value in the materials of thin-film based cells.
Research studies conducted on the topic of recycling solar panels have resulted in numerous technologies. Some of them even reach an astonishing 96% recycling efficiency, but the aim is to raise the bar higher in the future.The Future Benefits of Solar Waste Management:
Now that we know that solar panels can be recycled, the question is what other benefits it brings to the economy if any. Obviously, a proper solar panel recycling infrastructure will need to be established to manage the large volumes of PV modules that will be disposed in near future. Once that is in place, well be witnessing several positive factors and new opportunities within the economy.
Not only will PV recycling create more green job opportunities but also approximately 11 billion in recoverable value by 2050. This influx will make it possible to produce 2 billion new panels without the need to invest in raw materials. This means that there will be the capacity of producing around 630 GW of energy just from reusing previously used materials.
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Thanks to constant solar energy price drops, more and more households and businesses choose to invest in solar power systems. As a result, even more economic opportunities in the solar cell recycling sector will emerge.