Creating a circular solution for Solar Panels

Date01.12.2023
AuthorLisa Erkander

In 2027, solar energy is expected to become the world's largest energy source, resulting in a large number of solar panels. So far, there is no established system in for recycling, repairing, or upgrading solar panels in Sweden. That is why Svea Solar initiated the CircSolar project, an initiative that brings together stakeholders from the entire value chain in an effort to create a circular solution for solar panels.

The lifespan of a solar panel is about 30 years, and currently there are few panels ready for recycling, but in 15-20 years a lot of solar panels will have reached end-of-life. The CircSolar project gathers the entire value chain to propose a national infrastructure for the circular management of solar panels in Sweden. The proposed solution will include business model, incentives and compensation structures, as well as the necessary policy proposals to support a circular solution for solar panels.

- Given the significant growth and interest in solar power, it is crucial to consider the next steps when many solar panels have reached end-of-life. There is a tremendous opportunity here for the entire solar industry to become more sustainable. That is why we initiated this project, says Malin Cronqvist, Head of Sustainability at Svea Solar.

A solar panel consists of glass, plastic, aluminum, silicon, silver, copper, and lead —components that can be recycled.

- About 90 percent of a solar panel is recyclable. Currently, there is no system encouraging stakeholders in the solar industry to make the most out of old solar panels, including small components like silicon and metals. It is unclear for both consumers and businesses how to act responsibly. We see enormous potential here, and we hope this project will be the catalyst for a new circular approach within the Swedish solar industry, continues Malin Cronqvist.

CircSolar brings together stakeholders from the entire value chain to explore the possibilities of a circular system for solar panels, ensuring compliance with future legal requirements, securing access to essential recycled materials, reducing the use of natural resources, and enhancing the competitiveness of Swedish and European solar energy.

About CircSolar

CircSolar was initiated by Svea Solar and is led by Axfoundation in collaboration with El-kretsen, KTH, Remondis, and Stena Recycling. See more information on the project page: https://www.axfoundation.se/projekt/cirkulara-solpaneler-circsolar