The best way to recycle expired solar panels is to find a dedicated facility that performs a proper reuse cycle for the material. When retiring a solar farm, it is especially important to recycle the panels due to the amount of scrap produced. Fortunately, companies that recycle scrap PV solar panel modules include Interco, which extracts valuable resources that would otherwise go to waste.
Solar panels composes of photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert sunlight into electricity.
Once solar panels reach the end of their useful life, they often enter landfills. In fact, there are no national policies in the U.S. besides some states which are leading the way. Despite a lack of policy, several companies recycle scrap PV solar panel modules. Interco, established in 1996, runs as one of those companies.
The installations of PV solar modules are growing quickly. As a result of the increase, the volume of modules that reach the end of their life will develop at the same rate soon. In fact, by 2050 that figure will rise to 5.5-6 million tons.
The average lifespan of a solar panel is at roughly 20 years, so installations from the early 2000s are set to reach end-of-life. Will they end up in landfills?
What Makes the Best Companies that Recycle Scrap PV Solar Panel Modules
While there’s limited interest in recycling solar panels – due to the cost of recycling and the value of recovered materials is smaller than the original – the solar industry must consider an efficient waste management method to maintain the sustainability status of these products.
These panels often enter landfills as there are no national policies in the U.S. The presence of hazardous materials such as lead in the end-of-life solar panels can result in significant pollution and health issues if released into the environment.
The best companies that recycle scrap PV Solar panel modules offer a secure, well-staffed environment. Interco, a certified and reputable recycling center, has a staff of 100 full-time employees. As a result, the team at Interco receives, processes, upgrades, repackages, and ships approximately 15,000 tons of material monthly.
Recycling recovers over 80 percent of a crystalline silicon unit from each solar panel. Examples of other recyclable parts of a solar panel scrap include:
- Electric junction boxes
- Glass and plastics
- Aluminum frames and brackets
Interco recycles solar panels according to their types. Two main types are silicon-based or thin-filmed panels. As a result, there are two main methods of recycling solar panels:
Silicon-Based Solar Panel Recycling
- Dismantling of the panels. This process separates the aluminum and glass components for induvial recycling.
- The rest of the modules are subject to a temperature of 500 degrees Celsius. The step takes place in a thermal processing unit to ease the bonds between the cell elements.
- After applying heat, silicon cells then process after plastic evaporates.
- Once finishing the heat treatment, the melting process separates the hardware.
- As a result, the material is ready for use in the new silicon modules.
Thin Film-Based Solar Panel Recycling
- Machines shred the thin film-based panels from the material. This guarantees all particles are approximately 4-5 mm in size.
- A rotating screw separates the remaining solid and liquid materials.
- The process purifies liquids through precipitation. It also separates them from the semiconductor materials which contain inter-layer materials. Then, a vibrating surface separates these materials.
Interco is a global recycling company providing metals, computers, and electronics recycling services to the industrial, dealer, and government organizations throughout the western hemisphere. The facility has a 145,000 sqft. processing plant committed to the processing of computers, electronics, and batteries with the remainder of the indoor facility used for the processing of nonferrous industrial metals.
The option to recycle scrap PV solar panel modules as solar panel scrap disposal increases in significance every day. Interco is a leader in solar panel scrap recycling in the United States. The company recycles solar panels from across North America. In fact, solar panels from the Caribbean discover their way to Interco for processing. Interco handles domestic and international logistics services. If your business would like to learn more about Interco, click here.