Solar panels are guaranteed to generate energy for 25 to 30 years, and systems installed in the early 2000s are reaching the end of their warranty period in increasing numbers. Most of their components are steel, copper, aluminum, silicon, and other non-toxic materials that could potentially be reused, repurposed, or recycled. More U.S. solar recycling options are emerging, but it is still a fledgling space, and it is usually up to the installation companies and project developers to figure out.
All Energy Solar, a multi-state solar installation leader based in Minnesota, has taken up this challenge. After working with several providers to tackle the waste challenge of old or damaged solar panels, the company has officially launched a solar panel removal and reinstallation service in the Saint Paul area.
“As a green energy company with a goal of reducing environmental harm, working with recyclers seemed like a natural choice,” said Michael Allen, All Energy Solar’s co-founder and chief executive officer. “Solar panel component recycling is relatively new, but it’s vital to support as part of the solar energy industry. New technologies are being developed every day to make it more efficient and widely available.”
Additional reasons why panels may require removal include storms, hail, wind, and other weather events that damage both solar panels and the structures on which they are installed. Sometimes just one solar panel must be replaced, while other times the whole system may need to come down to make way for a new roof before it can be reinstalled.
“We work closely with our customers who endure bad weather events impacting their solar panels. We’re experienced in coordinating with insurance companies to make sure removal and replacements go seamlessly,” said Jeff Blackwell, Vice President of Operations at All Energy Solar. “When it’s time for them to be put back in place, it’s a good opportunity for customers to consider upgrading to newer, higher-output products. Having reliable vendors to take care of the recyclable materials after project completion is an important part of that process while supporting our focus on clean, green energy through solar.”
Agencies have recommended that Minnesota and other states adopt official collection and recycling programs for solar panels. Some e-waste recyclers accept them, but there isn’t currently a program aimed at helping residents and companies know what to do with solar panels after they’ve reached the end of their warranty period.
“This is our part of closing the loop on the end-of-life considerations of solar energy, and we hope that others follow suit to support the advancement and expansion of e-waste recycling services,” Allen noted.
Some other recent solar panel recycling services that have made headlines this year:
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