Solar PV modules are designed to last forever, or at least a longtime, right?
The fact of the matter is that solar modules must withstand years ofrain, snow, wind, and hail. Many last only ten years before they needto be replaced. So, what happens to them then? Well, First Solar, one of the country’s biggest solar companies, has come up with theindustry’s first comprehensive, prefunded module recycling program.
With the sale of each module, First Solar puts some money into acustodial account for future recycling – so that recycling becomes partof the sales process from the start.
When a customer needs to replace a solar module, they submit arequest for collection. First Solar provides packing materials,transportation, and recycling services at no additional cost. Thecustomer need only dismantle and package the modules. There are norestrictions on when someone can request collection and anyone who owns a First Solar PV Module can participate.
The program is designed to maximize the recovery of valuablematerials for use in new modules or other new products and minimize theenvironmental impacts associated with PV system production. The programenables the modules, including the glass and the encapsulatedsemiconductor material, to be treated and processed into raw materialfor new products. First Solar is able to recycle approximately 90% ofeach module into new products, including new modules.
The recycling program is part of First Solar’s goal to manage theproduct life cycle, from raw material sourcing through end-of-lifecollection and recycling – for even greater environmental benefits.