A big question about solar panels — how to efficiently recycle them — has been answered by two Australian scientists.
Researchers, from the Deakin Institute for Frontier Materials in Victoria, have discovered how to recycle silicon in solar cells.
Although the bulk of solar panels are glass, plastic and metal, the special silicon their cells contain is highly valuable.
Dr Md Mokhlesur Rahman and Professor Ying (Ian) Chen have found a way to recover the silicon and nano-size it for use in lithium-ion batteries (‘nano’ means one billionth of a metre).
Battery-grade nano-silicon retails for around $44,000 per kilogram. The discovery makes solar panel recycling a potentially lucrative industry, stopping panels from ending up in landfill.
Solar future bright with recycling
According to Rahman and Chen, the average service life of a solar panel is 15 to 25 years. Without recycling, there will be around 1.5 million tonnes of solar panel waste in Australian landfill by 2050.
“We can’t claim solar panels to be recyclable, in a circular economy sense, until scientists find a way to harvest and repurpose their most valuable components,” Chen said.
“Our discovery addresses several significant challenges currently facing industries dependent on batteries and energy storage heading into the future.”
Batteries key to energy future
With increased wind and solar power entering our homes and industry, ways to store it are key. Solar panels are only active during the day, and storing solar energy to use later requires a battery.
On a commercial scale, renewable microgrids – electricity plants consisting of wind/solar and large-scale batteries — are being built in regional areas. Electric car uptake will also increase the demand for batteries.
This growth has increased the demand for battery storage, and recycled silicon makes high-energy battery components.
“It’s the holy grail of repurposing,” Rahman said of solar panel recycling. “To take a product that would otherwise be waste, recycle it, and in the process make it even more valuable at the other end.”
Solar panels and batteries at home
Because solar panels usually produce more power than is used during the day, it’s economical to store it. To do this, you need a home battery like the Tesla Powerwall 2.
If you’d like to store excess solar power to further reduce your power bill, contact us about installing a battery. If you are looking at installing solar panels, we can help with that too. Fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch to help you choose a system for your situation.
As the demand for solar energy continues to grow in Australia, so too does the number of solar panels that are being installed. While solar panels are an environmentally-friendly source of energy, they are not indestructible and will eventually need to be replaced. When this happens, it’s essential to properly dispose of and recycle the old panels to minimize the environmental impact and to ensure that the materials used in their construction are recycled in a responsible manner.
Recycling Solar Panels In Australia
The good news is that recycling solar panels in Australia is easy and convenient. There are a number of organizations and companies that specialize in the recycling of solar panels, and they make it easy for individuals and businesses to recycle their old panels.
One of the main benefits of recycling solar panels is that it helps to reduce the amount of waste that is generated. Solar panels contain a variety of materials, including glass, metal, and silicone, and these materials can be recycled and used in the production of new solar panels or other products. This helps to conserve natural resources and to minimise the environmental impact of solar panel production.
In addition to reducing waste, recycling solar panels also helps to minimise the risk of environmental contamination. Solar panels contain small amounts of hazardous materials, such as lead and cadmium, and these materials can pose a risk if they are not properly disposed of. By recycling solar panels, these hazardous materials are safely contained and disposed of in a manner that minimizes the risk of environmental contamination.
Another benefit of recycling solar panels is that it helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The production of new solar panels requires a significant amount of energy, and this energy is typically generated from fossil fuels. By recycling old panels, we can reduce the need for new panels to be produced, and this in turn reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are generated.
We Can Remove Your Old Solar Panels Free Of Charge
With solar panel recycling now up and running in Australia, we are able to remove your solar system free of charge. To qualify for this offer, simply buy a new solar system from Solaray, and as a part of our installation, we will remove your old system. For more information contact the Solaray Team today: