Entrepreneurs finally bring real sustainability to solar

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Back in 2018, According to one industry source It was premature to focus on solar panel recycling in the United States, but nearly five years later, important steps have been taken to establish protocols to bring more sustainability to the solar industry. From recycling to waste cleanup at project sites to better shipping packaging, the solar industry is improving its image.

Member of SEIA PV recycling working group started creating a recycling checklist and searching for preferred partners in 2019 and launched a grassroots website (SolarRecycle.org) collected information about reuse, resale, and recycling stores that accept solar materials. But the biggest step forward in the solar recycling space comes with its 2022 launch. solar cycleis a PV technology-based recycler that has opened a processing facility in Odessa, Texas, recovering 95% of the value of solar panels.With national housing installers Sunrun and utility-scale developers silicon lunch We’ve partnered with SolarCycle to take care of the end-of-life modules.

Credit: PVpallet

Sunrun CEO Mary Powell said in a statement: “We are committed to sustainable disposal processes and are excited to partner with an innovative company that shares our vision and is dedicated to building a circular supply chain for the solar industry. “

In addition to anticipating useful life, some innovators are working on ways to prevent premature disposal of solar panels due to damage during delivery. PV pallet started collapsible plastic test It will be on pallets later in 2021 and has found a 100% success rate. green tech renewable energy We deliver the panels to Palmetto Solar. Greentech previously reported 10 module failures each month, but the PVpallet’s vertically stacked setup prevented forklift damage during transportation, distributed weight, and prevented panel failure. more distributors, including baywaresigned up to use PVpallets in warehouses and deliveries.

These reusable pallets also reduce wood pallet waste at project sites. green clean solarFounded in 2022 by industry veteran Emilie O’Leary, the company diverts waste by taking cardboard, shrink wrap, and other trash associated with the delivery of solar products from landfills to recycling centers. is supported. In addition to garbage collection, Green Clean Solar assists in the decommissioning of solar panels and complete cleanup of solar sites.

Brandon Beckwith, Green Clean Solar Operations Manager at the utility-scale site prior to cleanup.

“When I owned a commercial installation company, I was visiting utility-scale sites and realizing how much waste was being accumulated building these types of projects,” O ‘ says Leary. “It was very counterintuitive to build these large-scale energy efficiency systems to help the world, but then turned around and littered the planet with tons of waste. It got me started, and I want to revolutionize the way solar projects are built.”

O’Leary says her team was inundated with calls during Green Clean Solar’s first year asking for ways to recycle its solar panels. Green Clean Solar works as one of her one of the national EPC’s dedicated recyclers and in 2022 she was able to recycle 8,110 solar panels. According to O’Leary, more clients are signing up every day.

“No one took recycling seriously because no one required companies to undertake this or even considered this part of their scope of work. and communicated that we need recycling partners across the country to manage and find solutions to this growing problem,” she said. “When people realize and know they have a choice now, they are more than happy to work together and recycle as much as possible.”


Brandon Beckwith, Green Clean Solar Operations Manager at the utility-scale site prior to cleanup.

This story is part of SPW’s 2023 Solar Trends.Read all this year’s trends here.

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