Solar developer Silicon Ranch and recycling startup SOLARCYCLE said they plan to partner to process end-of-life solar modules.
SOLARCYCLE said its recycling method recovers roughly 95% of a solar panel’s value, which can be returned to the supply chain and used to manufacture new panels.
Silicon Ranch is SOLARCYCLE’s first utility-scale partner. It has 145 solar projects across 15 states. The partnership is expected to allow SOLARCYCLE to establish a model for recycling solar materials at utility scale.
In May, SOLARCYCLE announced its launch through a partnership with Sunrun. SOLARCYCLE will use panels from Sunrun to develop new ways to test, reuse and upcycle retired panels in Sunrun’s project portfolio.
The recycling process is expected to recover glass, silicon, and metals such as silver, copper, and aluminum. Research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that found that by 2040, for certain materials, recycling could meet up to 30% of domestic solar manufacturing needs.
“We know that scale matters in order to be able to drive costs down and bring quality up,” said Suvi Sharma, CEO and co-founder of SOLARCYCLE.
Recycling a solar panel ranges in cost from $20 to $30, while dumping the same panel in a landfill runs $1 to $2. SOLARCYCLE said it believes the cost to landfill is higher when factoring in logistics costs.
Sharma told the Factor This! podcast in August that his company is working to bring its first facility online in the southwestern U.S during the fourth quarter. The facility would extract all critical materials of the solar panel for recycled materials.
By the end of 2023, Sharma said SOLARCYCLE would have the capacity to recycle 1 million panels. And, in the coming years, he said that gigafactories could support the company’s recycling approach, which includes the pickup, processing, and reselling of materials for use in recycled panels.
Silicon Ranch was founded in 2011 and developed some of the first large-scale solar projects in Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Kentucky. Its partnership with SOLARCYCLE is the latest agreement with domestic suppliers, including both FirstSolar and Nextracker. Earlier this year, Silicon Ranch completed a $775 million equity raise led by Manulife Investment Management.
Sharma is a solar industry veteran. He co-founded and was the CEO of Solaria, a leading manufacturer of high-efficiency solar panels, primarily serving the residential sector. From inside Solaria, Sharma built what would become Nextracker, and recruited Dan Shugar as its CEO.
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Author: Renewable Energy World