Solar system manufacturer Canadian Solar Australia has entered into a partnership with Reclaim PV Recycling from South Australia to reduce waste by recycling old or damaged solar panels.

It is hoped that this initiative will become standard practice for all PV manufacturers operating in Australia to tackle the PV waste management challenge facing the solar industry.

Canadian Solar will promote the voluntary take back and recycle program for the end-of-life solar panels.

Country Manager for Canadian Solar Australia, Daniel Ruoss said, “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. During their lifespan modules may experience damage in various ways including vandalism or as a result of extreme weather events that exceed the manufacturers guarantee specifications and warranty. Any such PV panel needs to be properly disposed of and the valuable components recycled.”

A high-quality solar panel has a guaranteed lifespan of 25 to 30 years and experience in the field shows that up to 40 years is possible. Even after a serviceable life of decades, the materials of a solar panel have value and any PV module requires proper disposal.

A recycling program such as that offered by RECLAIM should be taken up by all manufacturers and importers of PV into Australia to ensure PV panels don’t end up in landfill. Crystalline solar panels are manufactured using few components; predominantly aluminium, glass and silicon – and over 90% of a panel’s weight can be recycled.

A recently published global report predicts the total annual recycled product value of crystalline silicon solar panels will hit USD $12 billion in 2035. In Australia, a well-established and readily accessible avenue for solar panel recycling is well overdue and 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.

Clive Fleming, Co-Director of RECLAIM PV Recycling said, “Our goal is to achieve the least environmental impact whilst gaining the most valuable yield. 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.”

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