Saturday, June 10, 2023

How Australia can turn 450,000 million solar panels into high value

Updated: 05/23/2023

Australia faces a growing problem with the recycling of used solar photovoltaic panels. By 2040 it is estimated that the country will have a mountain of 450,000 tons of used solar panels. But these pictures don’t have to be seen as “waste”. In fact, they can become a source of great social, environmental and economic value.

An interesting report from the University of Queensland and the PV Alliance explores how used solar panels can be put to good use. The report examines the market for used and surplus solar panels and how they can be returned, returned and recycled. Have you thought about second hand solar panels? We recommend this article.

The goal was to explore market and policy barriers to better address these issues.

The report found that many solar panels are being disposed of before the end of their useful life, which is a big problem. This is partly due to the industry’s evidence of renewal, which encourages investors to install new boards rather than extend the life of existing boards. Also, low quality boards have a high failure rate, which also contributes to breakdown.

The report also notes that records that cannot be returned still contain valuable materials, including silver, aluminum, silicon, glass, and copper. The recovery of these materials has become more efficient, increasing their value. For example, nano silicon created from recycled silicon can sell for more than A$44,000 per kilogram.

How australia can turn 450,000 million solar panels into high value

In order to use the solar panels, the report suggests that the system should be managed by value capture. This involves adopting a circular economy model, in which records are recycled and recycled. Appropriate policies and regulations and commercial services are needed to overcome barriers to reusing and recycling boards. This includes creating standards for storage testing and certification boards, repair warranties, and industry accreditation and reporting requirements. Additionally, engagement with a wider range of resources from consumers, insurers, and solar manufacturers is needed to overcome perceived barriers.

Finally, the report highlights the need to shift the perception of used solar panels from “waste” to “assets” in order to combine their social, environmental and economic value. With consistent agreements and regulations, as well as business services, it is possible to make the most of solar panels and build a sustainable circular economy in Australia.


Panel of solar materials.

The main materials found in solar panels and their recycling potential;

  • Glass: Only solar panels use a layer of glass for protection. Glass can be recycled and returned in the manufacture of new solar panels or other glass products.
  • Silicon solar cells: are the main components of solar panels and contain materials such as silicon, silver, aluminum and copper. The silicon used in solar cells can be recycled and repaired for use in the manufacture of new solar cells or other electronic products.
  • Aluminum: Solar panels are usually made of aluminum, which is a recyclable material. Recycled aluminum can be used in the manufacture of new solar panels or in other construction and industrial applications.
  • Copper: The wires and connections inside solar panels often contain copper, which is another recyclable material. The copper receptacle can be used in the manufacture of new solar panels or other electrical and electronic products.
  • Plastics: Some non-structural components of solar panels, such as panels and frames, can be made of plastic. Plastics used in solar panels can have different levels of recyclability depending on the type of plastic used. Some plastics can be recycled into new plastic products, while others will require a more complex recycling or reuse process.
  • Why is recycling of photovoltaic solar panels important?

    Recycling of solar photovoltaic panels is important for several reasons:

  • Waste reduction: Recycling solar panels prevents these devices from becoming electronic waste and ending up in landfills or being incinerated. Since solar panels contain valuable and potentially toxic materials, their improper disposal can have a negative impact on the environment and human health.
  • Material recovery: Solar panels contain materials such as glass, silicon, aluminum and copper that can be recycled and reused in the manufacture of new products. Recycling makes it possible to extract the most valuable of these materials and reduces the need to extract and process new natural resources.
  • Resource conservation: Solar panel recycling reduces the need for virgin raw materials such as silicon and aluminum, which are non-renewable resources. By using recycled materials, the need for extraction is reduced and natural resources are preserved for a long time.
  • Reduction of the environmental footprint: The manufacture of solar panels involves consuming energy and resources, as well as generating greenhouse gas emissions. By recycling solar panels and reusing materials, the need to manufacture new panels is reduced, which in turn lowers the environmental footprint associated with their production.
  • Boosting the circular economy: solar panel recycling is an important part of the circular economy, where materials are conserved in a continuous use cycle. Promoting recycling encourages the development of more efficient infrastructure and recycling processes, creating economic and employment opportunities in waste management and the recycling sector.
  • It is important to note that solar panel recycling is still in full swing and not fully established in all countries. However, as the solar energy industry grows, more efficient technologies and processes are being developed to recycle solar panels, which will help maximize the recovery of the most valuable materials and reduce the environmental impact of these devices.

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    World Nation News Desk
    World Nation News Desk
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