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Interco Recycles Solar Panels

Interco Recycles Solar Panels

The global interest in renewable energy sources over the past few decades has caused a rapid increase in solar technology. As a result, the need for effective, environmentally friendly, end of life management for scrap solar panels is increasing. Interco has been recycling solar panels and other electronics around the world since 1996. Currently, the company recycles PV cells according to type yielding almost a 90% return of reusable materials. Utility companies, solar panel producers and decommissioning services, and roofing companies all rely on Interco to recycle solar panels.

Scrap solar panels

The Need for Scrap Solar Panel Recycling

The installation of about 70% of the world’s solar panels has occurred within the past five years. Given their predicted lifespan of 30-35 years, most solar panels have not yet entered the waste stream. Occasionally, weather damage and accidents during production, shipment, and installation, can cause a premature need for recycling services. Often damaged panels end up in a landfill due to the expense associated with recycling them. A lack of federal regulations on solar panel disposal also contributes to low recycling rates. Without recycling processes, an estimated 60 million tons of scrap solar panels will end up in landfills by 2050. As a result, demand for solar panel recycling facilities will rapidly increase over the next thirty years.

Recycle pv cells

Interco’s Solar Panel Recycling Facility

Solar panels arrive by rail or truck to Interco’s facility, where over 250,000 scrap solar panels are processed each year. There are 7 buildings across 45 acres of the company’s 400,000 square foot recycling facility. Interco’s central location on the Illinois side of St. Louis, across the Mississippi from the Gateway Arch, serves the USA, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America. With over 25 years of experience in recycling e-scrap, Interco’s original recycling processes include pending patents for several recycling techniques. Furthermore, Interco demonstrates a commitment to the focus on the environmental impact of electronics recycling. The company was the second electronics recycling company in the world to achieve the R2v3 Standard Certification.

Scrap PV Solar Panel Modules

Interco Recycles PV Cells

Interco recycles PV cells using processes to recover as much material from the solar panels as possible. Different methods are used to recycle pv cells according to their type: silicon based or thin-film based. Crystalline-silicon panels make up the majority of the solar market. Recycling of crystalline-silicon panels relies on some, or all, of the following steps.

  1. First, the aluminum frame and junction box are removed from the solar panel. After separation, the junction boxes and inverters are recycled according to escrap recycling procedures.
  2. Afterwards, thermal, mechanical, or chemical processes break about the glass and silicon wafer. The recycled glass becomes an aggregate material and used in industrial, commercial, and residential applications.  
  3. In some cases, silicon cells and specialty metals undergo separation and purification using chemical and electrical techniques. Specialty metals include silver, tin, lead, and copper. Smelters receive these metals and reclaim them for other purposes.
recycle solar panels

Recycle Solar Panels for Future Financial Gains

Glass and aluminum make up the majority of solar panel material. Solar panels also contain copper, silver, and small amounts of lethal heavy metals such as cadmium and lead. In addition, some solar panels contain materials like gallium and indium, rare elements that are expensive to mine and in short supply. By 2030, the estimated total value of recoverable raw materials from scrap solar panels will be about $450 million. This is the equal to the cost of raw materials currently needed to produce about 60 million new panels. In the end, manufacturers will be able to make new panel products using conserved gallium and indium. As a result, conserving these precious metals can lessen supply chain constraints ultimately lowering the cost of solar technology. In short, solar panel recycling can help finance the future growth of the solar power industry.

Choose Interco for Solar Panel Recycling

As of result of increasing reliance on solar technologies, there will be a dire need for solar panel recycling facilities. Recycling solar panels contributes to both a company’s financial gains and their positive green impact. For instance, it eliminates waste in landfills. It also provides an economic opportunity for growth by reducing the need to mine for costly rare metals. Therefore, solar panel installers, manufacturers, and utility companies across the United States use Interco’s trusted facilities to recycle solar panels.

Solar Panel Recycling
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