Solar panel disposal is a new problem but, eventually, it is one you will have to deal with.
Solar power systems, much like any other electrical appliance, have a lifespan. The same way that your fridges, TVs, and cars all end up on the scrap heap, so do your solar panels. Of course, if you are buying high-quality equipment and you don’t abuse it, then it will last you a long time, but eventually, it will break down.
Now, given that you have gone to the effort to install a solar power system in the first place, we can assume that you also want your solar panel disposal to be friendly to the environment. That is why we have created this list for you, to help you find the most convenient and eco-conscious way to kick your old system to the curb.
The Top Methods for Solar Panel Disposal
Method #1: Recycle Them
At the present time, there is only one solar panel recycling plant in the whole of Australia. That’s right, good old Reclaim PV Recycling handles all of our nation’s solar panel recycling needs. Although they are based in South Australia, they will pick up old solar panels from anywhere in the country.
For a fee of $30 per panel, the Reclaim team will come and take your old panels away. There are a few stipulations though. First of all, the panels must be of the silicon variety. Unfortunately, anyone with cadmium telluride panels will not be able to recycle them.
Stipulation number two is that Reclaim will not accept panels that have been stripped of their aluminum frame. The frame is the most valuable part of the panel and without it the recycling process becomes unprofitable. So there you have it, for $30 a panel you can have your silicon aluminum-framed panels recycled.
Method #2: Give Them Away
You would think for this method to make any sense the panels will have to be in good working order. This is often the case. If you have decided to upgrade your system, or maybe you are moving house and can’t take them with you, you might want to find a new home for them. In either case, it will likely take some handy people to remove and reinstall your old panels in a new home – but it’s certainly possible.
On the other hand, if your panels are no longer functional, it is not necessarily the end of their life. They could still be useful to someone as some form of art or engineering project. Whether someone wants to try and fix them or simply repurpose them, at least they have found a new home.
Method #3: Sell Them
Getting rid of your unwanted solar panels and making money? It’s a win-win situation. On top of that, selling your panels means that they will almost certainly be going to a good place. In other words, it is a good way to recycle.
As long as you can prove that they are in working order, and are willing to offer some kind of guarantee, you can find plenty of places to put them up for sale. All the major online marketplaces such as eBay and Gumtree would be a great place to start.
The only possible downside is that the panels will drop in value, second-hand anything tends to lose a lot of value. This is especially true of solar panels as there is such a small market for used panels. Think of it as a bonus rather than a necessity.
Method #4: Dispose of Them as Electronic Waste
Large towns or cities now have an e-waste site where you can dispose of electronic goods. This method is not quite as good as getting them recycled because, well, they don’t get recycled, not completely anyway. They will be stripped of their aluminum panels and junction boxes, but the panels themselves will be stacked and stored.
On top of that, you will also have to pay for this service. Either for a flat fee of around $20 or for a reasonable per tonnage price (usually $750) you can take your unwanted panels. Although they are not being recycled there is a good chance they will be in the future so you can sleep kind of well.
Method #5: Give Them to A Scarp Dealer
Possibly the least environmentally friendly way to dispose of your panels is to have them picked up by a scrap merchant. Scrap merchants might even sell themselves as “recyclers” but given the paucity of actual silicon panel recycling options, it is a good chance they are not going to recycle the whole panel.
As with the electronic waste site, a scrap merchant will strip the panels of all their valuables. From there it is up to the scrap dealer what he does with the leftover panels, but there is a good chance he will leave them to rot in a temporary disposal site. As we said from the outset, this is the best way to dispose of them but depending on your location it might be the only realistic one available.
Method #6: Store Them on Your Own Land
If you have space you could always store the panels away on your own property. There are two major benefits to this: it won’t cost you a penny and it gives you the option to recycle them at a later date.
As far as safety goes, solar panels are a lot safer than some of their electronic cousins. TVs and mobile phones, for example, are far more toxic and hazardous to leave lying around. That’s before we even talk about all the old flammable and toxic chemicals the average Australian has sitting at the back of the tool shed.
If you do decide to store your panels try and keep them dry, and for your own sanity, out of sight, and wait for the right time to get them recycled.
Method #7: Get The Local Council To Dispose of Them
This is a notoriously unreliable way to dispose of your unwanted solar panels.
In some cases, your local council will be willing to come and collect your old panels in the same way they collect all hard rubbish. Unfortunately, most local councils are unwilling to do this as they don’t pick up the electronic waste.
You will have to verify with your local council whether they are willing to come and collect this particular form of electronic waste and what it is exactly they do with it.
All the solar panel disposal options have been laid out bare. In some ways, your location will determine which options are available to you, as will the condition of your panels, but other than that it is up to you.
Remember, as solar power usage increases, it is probable that the government will develop more efficient ways to recycle old solar panels. It may also be the case that people find other ways to use the panels. Until then, these 7 methods are what we have to work with.
If you have any information on solar panel recycling or any questions about the solar power industry. You can contact us here at Energy Solar Pro.