Can solar panels be recycled & upcycled?


It’s a long-standing myth that solar panels can’t be recycled.The Melbourne-based Ojas Group, however has set out to debunk this myth once and for all with their ‘first of a kind’ solar panel upcycling plant.

How Long Do Solar Panels Last

Although hardy, the average life span of a solar panel is generally around 25 years.Can-solar-panels-be-recycled-&-upcycled

Once a solar panel has progressed passed this peak life cycle age, you may start to see its efficiency fall.

According to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) solar panels only degrade by around 0.3%-0.5% per year.

So, by the time your solar panel reaches the 25-year mark they are still operating around the 88% mark which isn’t too bad at all!

If you are finding that your array’s efficiency has dropped to a level where you are no longer receiving your energy requirements it may be time to consider an upgrade.

Solar Market offers 3 complimentary quotes from local CEC accredited installers within your area. So, if you are looking to replace your system for an upgrade let us help you find the best deal.

Upcycling & Recycling Solar Panels

But what happens to your old solar panels? They might just end up at Ojas Group’s new upcycling plant, Elecsome.

In partnership with RMIT and the University of Melbourne the Ojas Group aims to transform potentially hazardous solar panel waste into valuable materials.

Recycling in Australia conceptThe new initiative intends to up-cycle 97 per cent of each PV panel delivered, turning the PV glass into:

  • Concreate Fill
  • Road base material, such as sand

The aluminum frames will be repurposed into items such as:

  • Cans
  • More solar frames

EVA polymer silicon elements from the panels will also be recycled into raw material that can then be distributed to other industries.

Each developed factory intends to cater for over 50 tonnes of solar waste, creating essential employment opportunities across many regional areas.

As the solar industry continues to boom within Australia, managing solar waste sustainably has become an important goal. As we transition to a more renewable dominant grid, solar panel manufacturing and recycling processes have had to adapt and expand their methods.

Ready To Switch To Renewable Energy?

Interested in how you can use renewable energy to power your home? Solar Market offers 3 complimentary quotes from CEC accredited installers in your area so that you can choose the right solar option for you.

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Download Your FREE Ultimate Guide to Solar Power in Australia - 2021 Edition

Beginners Guide to Solar Power

If you’re considering solar for your property or just looking to maximise the savings for your solar system, download a FREE copy of our "Ultimate Guide to Solar Power in Australia - 2021 Edition".

Become an expert and better understand the ins and outs of solar power and solar PV systems for your property.

Includes detailed explanations and diagrams of the various types of solar systems and their parts, solar battery storage systems, Government incentives, expected ROI periods, finance, energy-saving tips and more!

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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.

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