NREL researchers said a profitable and sustainable solar panel recycling industry could establish itself by 2032. Here’s how the numbers work.
September 21, 2021
If the solar industry wants to claim it has green cred, then solar panels must be managed in a sustainable manner at the end of their usable lives.
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Laboratory (NREL) published research that describes how to motivate the market first to reuse solar panels, and then recycle them by guiding national industrial policy to create a financially viable end-of-life solar panel industry.
The research was published in Nature Energy and offers a real number for policy makers to consider: a $10-18 per panel subsidy to pay for recycling at the end of the panel’s life.
The researchers’ projections showed that 40% of all solar panels could be reused and recycled using subsidies equal to $18 per panel for 12 years. At that price, a profitable and sustainable solar panel recycling industry could establish itself by 2032.
The NREL research said that specific tools could be effective at minimizing the landfilling of solar panels. The first simply would ban solar panels from landfills. The second option would subsidize solar panel recycling in order to lower the effective cost of recycling …….