What happens to solar panels at the end of their life?

At the end of a solar facility’s useful life, estimated to be about 30 years on average, panels can be removed and either reused or recycled. Existing recycling programs are able to recover about 90% of the materials used in the panels, much of which is glass. In fact, the International Renewable Energy Agency projects that the value of recovered materials could exceed $15 billion by 2050 and that the material recovered could be used to remanufacture two billion solar panels. The solar industry continues to improve recycling systems and protocols in anticipation of increased volume of solar panels in need of recycling in the future. 

Learn more from the Solar Energy Industries Association by reading their fact sheet here.

You can also see a map of current companies recycling solar panels and solar components from the Department of Energy at www.energy.gov/eere/solar/solar-manufacturing-map.