Solar Panel Recycling will be $15 Billion Business in 30 Years

The cost of solar power continues to fall, resulting in the solar market growing at astounding rates! This is great news as more homeowners are able to go solar. While the fast growing solar industry creates hundreds of thousands of jobs, it is also creating a future waste challenge. In order for solar power to truly be an environmental benefit, we cannot let it become a commonplace in our landfills. Current technologies are able to achieve a 96% solar panel recycling rate in real-world performance. Their goal is to increase those rates to reach 100%.

Recycling solar panel material

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) released a new research study, which states that old solar panels will be worth $15 billion in recyclable material by the year 2050. The potential inundation of recyclable materials could produce 2 billion new solar panels made from the recycled materials. IRENA estimates that solar panel waste, consisting mostly of glass, could reach 78 metric tons globally. The ability to recycle your solar panels at the end of their lifespan will help finance future solar growth.  More importantly — when combined with  industry recyclables, currently at 96%, means that solar power has complete environmental credibility.

Solar panel recycling is a $15 billion business opportunity

What the IRENA’s study has shown is that if we can in fact reach these goals — we will have created a $15 billion opportunity by the time your solar panels need replacing in thirty years. IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin asserts, “Global installed PV capacity reached 222 GW at the end of 2015 and it expected to further rise to 4,500 GW by 2050. With this tremendous capacity growth will come an increase in waste associated with the sector”. He continues, “This brings about new business opportunities to ‘close the loop’ for solar PV panels at the end of their lifetime. To seize these opportunities, however, preparations for the surge  in end-life material should begin now. With the right policies &  frameworks in place, new industries that recycle and repurpose old solar PV panels will drive considerable economic value creation and will be an important element in the world’s transition to a sustainable energy future”.

222 GW of photovoltaics have been installed globally as of the end of 2015, 85% of it has been installed in the last five years. That means in about thirty years, we will start seeing a wave of growth in solar panel replacements and/or recycling.


If you have more questions about solar panel recycling or are ready to go solar, please get in touch! Email, call or schedule an in home consultation with one of our trusted solar energy specialists! We make it easy to switch to solar power with worry free no money down financing! We install solar power across South Carolina, including Charleston and Columbia Give us call today! (855) 339-1831


Palmetto Solar


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