Making solar energy as clean as can be means fitting square panels into the circular economy
(Inside Climate News, 9 Oct 2023) As solar projects surge nationwide, the demand is increasing for recycling solutions that will keep photovoltaic panels out of landfills and their energy-producing elements in the sun.
Even for the most enthusiastic boosters of renewable energy, it’s hard to argue that solar panels provide truly clean electricity if, at the end of their lives, many of them end up in landfills.
But keeping solar cells out of the dump requires a market for recycled solar materials that is much more robust than what currently exists and policies that incentivize companies to recycle their panels and use recycled materials when they’re building new ones. Still, for many experts, the first step in creating such a “circular economy” in which decommissioned solar components are repurposed in new ones, is to prohibit the disposal of solar panels in landfills at all.
“We have to come together and say, ‘there’s absolutely no landfill policy.’ Let’s start there,” said Adam Saghei, CEO of We Recycle Solar, one of the nation’s only utility-scale solar recycling companies, which is based in Yuma, Arizona.