Regulations do not require solar panels to be recycled.
It is cheaper to put solar panels in a landfill
- Landfills: As a result, solar’s production boom has left its recycling infrastructure in the dust. To give you some indication, First Solar is the sole U.S. panel manufacturer, we know of, with an up-and-running recycling initiative, which only applies to the company’s own products, at a global capacity of two million panels per year. With the current capacity, it costs an estimated $20–$30 to recycle one panel. Sending that same panel to a landfill would cost a mere $1–$2. Learn more here
- Recycled material worth: Only about $2 to $4 worth of materials are recovered from each panel. The majority of processing costs are tied to labor, and Orben said even recycling panels at scale would not be more economical. Learn more here
- But the volume of solar panel waste will destroy the economics of solar even with the subsidies, they say. "By 2035,” write the three economists, “discarded panels would outweigh new units sold by 2.56 times. In turn, this would catapult the LCOE (levelized cost of energy, a measure of the overall cost of an energy-producing asset over its lifetime) to four times the current projection.” Learn more here
- Solar panels are starting to die, leaving behind toxic trash. Learn more here
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