Recycling solar panels: one company closing the loop – Yahoo! Voices

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Solar panels can last several decades, but these panels don’t last forever. Throwing away solar panels at the end of their use would be detrimental to the environment, which serves to counter why many people choose to go solar in the first place.

KXAN Meteorologist Nick Bannin spoke with Suva Sharma, the CEO of Solarcycle, a company working to recycle solar panels and turn them into new ones.

KXAN Meteorologist Nick Bannin: Suvi, your company specializes in recycling solar panels, how do you do it?

Suvi Sharma, CEO of Solarcycle: We recycle it through a combination of different equipment and processes that we’ve developed in house at Solarcycle. Solar panels are very specialized product and so we need specialized machines to do that. And we developed those so that we can, in an automated fashion, recycle all the core materials out of a solar panel.

Bannin: So how much of a solar panel is actually recyclable?

Sharma: So the good thing about a solar panel is most all of it, over 90%, is glass and metals. And if you think about your recycling bin, those are the things you can recycle. And so we’re able to recycle those, the challenging part is getting those materials out, because they’re all glued together with plastics. And so that’s what a lot of our processes at Solarcycle… to get the things like aluminum, glass, silver out of the solar panel. But, by weight over 90% is recyclable and by the value, we can recycle more than 95% of the value of a solar panel through this process.

Bannin: And you have a recycling plant here in Texas, right?

Sharma: In Odessa, Texas. Texas is, a lot of people don’t realize, it’s becoming the biggest solar state in the country, really rivals California for that. So there’s a lot of solar. It’s also nice, because it’s in the center of the country, so that we can recycle panels from all over the country.

Bannin: You recently had made an announcement about a partnership, you have to use your recycled solar panel material to make new ones can you tell me about that?

Sharma: A typical solar panel, most of the weight of the panel is glass… if you think about a solar panel at home, there’s a big sheet of glass on top of each panel. That glass, we don’t want to throw that away and we don’t want to just recycle it for anything, we want to turn it back in a new solar glass. And what we discovered was that we could do that through some process and improvements and enhancements. And so we announced that we’re setting up a factory in Georgia, to make new solar glass from our recycle glass for new solar panels and thereby creating what we call a circular loop.

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