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Multi-billion dollar future for solar panel recycling

April 22, 2012

The total annual recycled product value of crystalline silicon solar panels will hit US$ 12 billion in 2035, states a new report by GlobalData.

While a high-quality solar panel can easily endure for a number of decades – some manufactured in the 1980s are still working – the considerable uptake of photovoltaic (PV) technology will result in huge volumes of panels being retired at some stage. Since crystalline solar panels contain only a few components and because aluminium, glass and silicon make up most of their mass, more than 90% of a panel’s weight can be recycled into more modules or even other products.

Multiple plans are already in motion to further the evolution of PV recycling. In October last year, for example, PV Cycle had collected over 2,900 tonnes of end-of-life modules. Today, well over 200 solar panel manufacturers have become members of PV Cycle, including Suntech, REC, AUO and Hanwha SolarOne.

According to the GlobalData report, volumes of end-of-life crystalline modules are expected to reach approximately 19 475 tons by 2025, growing to 1 100 300 tons by the end of 2035. Due to this GlobalData expects the total recycled product value of crystalline modules to increase from US$ 122 million in 2025 to US$ 12 billion by 2035.

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