Solar panel recycling could be worth $15 billion by 2050

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Decommissioned solar panels could be worth $15 billion if recycled, according to a new study.

The report End-of-Life Management: Solar Photovoltaic Panels by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Energy Agency’s Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme (IEA-PVPS) is the first projection of waste PV volumes by 2050.

IRENA director general Adnan Z Amin said: “Global installed PV capacity reached 222GW at the end of 2015 and is expected to further rise to 4,500GW by 2050. With this tremendous capacity growth will come an increase in waste associated with the sector.

“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-of-life material should begin now.

“With the right policies and enabling 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.”