Solar PV Refurbishment and Repurposing: An Important and Viable Option for Solar Decommissioning

The solar industry is starting to pay attention to the massive wave of aging systems that will soon need to be decommissioned. Over the last few months, more companies are emerging to provide decommissioning solutions for aging or end-of-life PV systems. Recycling methods for solar PV panels are expected to become more efficient and the Department of Energy is focused on reducing the cost of recycling to a few dollars per module, to compete with current landfill costs – a crucial step in creating the circular economy needed in our industry.

As recycling companies work towards this goal, there is an important interim solution that is often overlooked: Refurbishment and Repurposing. There are many reasons why solar PV systems are being decommissioned. Ironically, the reason we run into this least often is that the modules are at their true end of life and must be recycled. In most cases, the panels are in good working condition and can be given a second life (often a long one too) through refurbishment and re-sale or donation. This is beneficial for several reasons:

  1. Repurposing used modules allow them to continue to produce clean energy as they were expected to do for 25+ years
  2. Keeping modules in service gives recycling plants time to reduce their carbon footprints through more innovative methods of recycling and allows the grid to be powered by more clean sources and fewer fossil fuels (compounding on the sustainable impact from above)
  3. Donations of used modules will help communities in need obtain affordable clean power
  4. It gives recycling plants the time needed to reduce recycling costs mitigating current recycling expenses

Repurposing used equipment does not come without unique challenges. Used equipment may not meet current code or utility requirements limiting where and how it can be deployed. It is important to consider recycling costs for any solar decommissioning solution so that there are funds allocated for proper disposal at the modules’ true end-of-life. Decom Solar can help find the right solution for any solar decommissioning project and can provide guidance to asset owners and developers to minimize your decommissioning costs and mitigate harmful solar module disposal. Learn more about Decom Solar services.