Orsted has pledged to recycle 100% of its US solar panels

The Danish renewables giant is partnering with Texas-based SOLARCYCLE to recycle all of Ørsted‘s end-of-life US solar panels.

Ørsted’s commitment to reuse or recycle 100% of end-of-life solar panels is a first in the solar industry. 

Ørsted signed a recycling contract in 2021 with First Solar for thin-film modules. SOLARCYCLE opened its recycling center in Odessa, Texas, in 2022. 

While Ørsted’s US solar projects are still in early stages, it’s already recycled 4,000 panels. Its agreement with SOLARCYCLE means that Ørsted will now have a recycling plan for crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar modules – so that means that all of Ørsted’s projects will now have recycling coverage. 

Ørsted announced today that it will invest $68 billion to install 50 gigawatts of renewable power capacity – that’s solar and wind – by 2030.

Recycling solar panels

Recycling solar panels domestically will create a supply of materials needed to make new solar panels, including glass, silicon, and valuable metals such as silver, copper, and aluminum. This reduces waste and the amount of raw resources needed to be mined, which then have to be extracted and refined.

SOLARCYCLE’s recycling technology can extract 95% of the value from solar panels. The company evaluates whether an end-of-life panel can be used secondhand onsite, and if it can’t be, then it gets recycled. The aluminum frame and junction box are removed, the glass is delaminated, and the remaining panel is shredded.

Valuable metals such as silver and copper are recovered, and plastics are separated out. SOLARCYCLE returns materials back to the supply chain, including to US solar manufacturers.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory found in 2022 that for some materials, recycling can meet at least 25-30% of domestic solar manufacturing needs in the US by 2040.

Read more: The first US-built offshore wind substation is sailing to New York

Photo: Solarcycle

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