Don’t look now, but big things are starting to happening in U.S. solar panel recycling. This week, two large operator / independent power producers agreed to significant partnerships to ensure recycling services upon decommissioning.
Greenbacker Renewable Energy Company LLC, an independent power producer and a leading climate-focused investment manager, signed an exclusive, long-term partnership with SOLARCYCLE, a technology-based solar recycling company, to secure high-value, cost-effective recycling for decommissioned solar panels.
SOLARCYCLE, in its second year of operation, has grown its infrastructure footprint nationally through high-volume contracts (such as this deal with Orsted and this one with Sunrun). Its proprietary technology allows for the extraction of 95% of the value from recycled panels, including silver, silicon, copper, aluminum, and glass from recycled panels. The company promises to sell higher-purity materials back into the domestic supply chain.
SOLARCYCLE’s rapid expansion has created the missing piece of the puzzle that’s held back recycling to this point: economies of scale. With the promised volumes mounting, committed partners like Greenbacker will be paying a much lower price to secure advanced solar recycling.
This is the “cycle” solar PV recycling needed. The Greenbacker deal keeps it going, adding to those economies of scale. Greenbacker’s fleet currently includes over 975 MW of operating solar projects.
“By committing to this exclusive, multi-year partnership with SOLARCYCLE, we’ve created a cost reduction roadmap that aligns with Greenbacker’s long-term owner-operator mindset,” said Jared Porpiglia, vice president of procurement at Greenbacker. “Greenbacker is receiving access to advanced solar panel recycling at cost-effective rates because we’re helping SOLARCYCLE hit the scale needed to extract and sell even more value from each recycled panel—all while furthering our mission to empower a sustainable world.”
Given the national footprint of Greenbacker and its affiliates—500 assets across 33 states, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Washington, DC—the partnership will also serve as a model for the solar industry and other stakeholders on how to build out a low-cost and sustainable domestic circular supply chain in America.
Meanwhile, Nautilus Solar Energy, LLC and Green Clean Solar announced their collaboration on a solar panel recycling for two community solar projects in Maine this week.
Damaged solar panels and waste, totaling 14.11 tons and comprising 512 modules, were removed from two recently constructed community solar sites in Fryeburg (6.9MW) and Wells (6.5MW). Rather than going to a landfill, the solar panels were diverted for recycling by Green Clean Solar.
“Beyond recycling, our hands-on approach empowered Nautilus to prioritize exceptional community solar in Maine, while we managed recycling. This collaboration showcases how industry leaders unite to ensure responsible solar panel end-of-life management. Our aligned values for a solar circular economy truly fueled this project’s success.” Emilie Oxel O’Leary, CEO & Owner of Green Clean Solar LLC.
Every community solar project developed by Nautilus includes decommissioning terms to ensure that once the lease concludes, the solar system will be removed, and the site will be returned to its original state. As Nautilus and Green Clean Solar look forward to further collaborations, this recycling initiative sets a positive precedent for other organizations in the industry.
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