Solar Panel Life Cycle

Solar Farms do not emit any toxic waste while in operation. However, sometime during a solar farm’s life, each solar panel will reach its end of life. This page discusses what happens then.

The short version is that it is almost always better financially for End Of Life panels to be recycled, not buried in a landfill.

While there are currently few recycling facilities, the rapid growth in solar farms will support more panel recycling facilities, much like increased cell phone numbers justified more cellphone towers.

Recycling: A Solar Panels Life after Death [infographic]

Current Recycling Regulations

End-of-life disposal of solar products in the US is governed by the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and state policies that govern waste disposal or other disposition. SEIA works collaboratively with regulators to reasonably develop implementable regulations and manageable processes for compliance.

National PV Recycling Program

SEIA’s PV Recycling Working Group has developed a national PV recycling program. This program will include specific benefits for members who utilize the services of SEIA Preferred Recycling Partners. Click here to find out more.

End-of-Life Considerations for PVDownload
Checklist for Recycling PV ModulesDownload
Peer-reviewed Article: Major challenges and opportunities in silicon solar module recyclingExplore

EPA PV recycling conference presentations