What To Do With Old Solar Panels?

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Solar panels have a relatively long life span. They can produce electricity for more than 40 years after they are first used. However, once used, it is uneconomical to keep them, as their efficiency deteriorates. You must therefore replace them. But what to do with your old solar panels? Throw them away? Recycle them? Tasmania Solar Panels answers you in this article!

Are old solar panels recyclable?

Old solar panels are recyclable and can be given a second life through the process of recycling. Recycling of solar panels involves breaking down the various components, such as glass, metals, and plastic, and reusing or repurposing them in new products. 

This not only helps reduce waste and preserve natural resources, but also supports the growth of a circular economy. According to some estimates, a used solar panel can be recycled up to 94%. With the increasing use of solar energy, the recycling of solar panels is becoming increasingly important in ensuring sustainable development.

Sometimes old solar panels need a good clean, in order to maintain proper functionality. If you’re wondering how to clean solar panels check out our solar panel blog. 

Silicon, a highly recyclable element

In Australia, about 90% of solar panels are currently made of crystalline silicon. This material can be reused up to 4 times. It can be used to:

  • Manufacture new solar panels
  • Design of electronic devices

Other components of the solar panel

However, in a solar panel there is not only silicon. The panel is also composed of other reusable materials:

  • Glass, infinitely recyclable;
  • Aluminum, also infinitely recyclable;
  • Copper and silver in small quantities, melted and then reused

Finally, there is plastic, in small quantities. It is the only non-recyclable element of the solar panel.

What is the life span of a solar panel?

According to Enedis, the national manager of the electric network, the ‘solar panels have a life of 30 years on average. It is thus about an investment on the long term. Especially since by ensuring a good maintenance of your solar installation, it can last more than 40 years.

Self-consumption: how to know if a solar panel is dead?

If the performance of your solar installation is declining and you notice a drop in energy production, it may be a sign that your panel is no longer functioning properly or has reached the end of its life.

A decrease in solar production doesn’t necessarily mean your panel is faulty, but it’s a potential sign. To determine the issue, consider contacting Tasmania Solar Panels to check the voltage of your panels using a multimeter. Other factors like inverter problems or short circuits could also impact production.

Where to dispose of my solar panels and at what price?

Disposing of your old solar panels can be done at various recycling facilities, e-waste centers, or through specialized companies that deal with solar panel disposal. 

The cost of disposal will depend on various factors such as the size and type of the panels, the location, and the recycling process used. Some companies offer free pickup and disposal for large quantities of solar panels, while others may charge a fee based on weight or volume. It is important to research and compare options before making a decision to ensure that the disposal is done in an environmentally responsible manner and at a reasonable cost.

What happens to the ‘waste’ from the solar panels?

Depending on its properties, each component can have a new life. How are the components of a solar panel recycled?

1. The silicon

Silicon is used to create new solar modules. The production of new solar panels from recycled silicon is more energy efficient than from ‘new’ silicon.

Indeed, thanks to the elimination of certain steps in the recycling process, such as the elaboration of the wafer (thin layer of silicon), the manufacture of a solar cell from recycled silicon allows to save up to 30% of energy.

Thus, the recycling of your solar panels is ecologically beneficial. It allows you to reduce your carbon footprint and to continue to produce electricity thanks to free and sustainable energy.

2. Glass and aluminum

These two materials can be recycled very well. They can be used to produce food packaging. Glass can also be heated to a high temperature to create a very useful insulator for energy renovation: glass wool. It could be used to insulate a house in the future.

3. Copper and silver

Copper is infinitely recyclable and never loses its performance. It can be reused to create electronic circuits. The same is true for silver.

Is this process free? Isn’t it more profitable to throw away a used solar panel at the waste disposal center?

Yes, the recycling is free of charge. Therefore, when you dispose of a solar panel at the end of its life, you do not have to pay anything. Indeed, you have already participated in the collection and sorting via the eco-participation.


In conclusion, old solar panels are recyclable and can have a second life through the recycling process. This process helps reduce waste, preserve natural resources and supports a circular economy. Most solar panels are made of silicon which is a highly recyclable material, and other components like glass, aluminum, copper and silver are also recyclable. 

The life span of a solar panel is estimated to be around 40 years on average, but proper maintenance can increase its lifespan. If your solar panel production is decreasing, it may be time to replace it. The disposal of solar panels can be done at various facilities and the cost will depend on various factors. The recycling of solar panels is free of charge and helps reduce your carbon footprint by producing energy efficiently and sustainably.

If you’re interested in purchasing or installing solar panels in Tasmania, Solar Panels Tasmania has you covered! Feel free to contact us and get your free quote today.

John Williams Solar Panel Expert Tasmania On A Roof

John Williams is a solar panel expert with 15+ years of experience, providing customized solutions and promoting clean energy in Tasmania. He has a deep understanding of technical and commercial aspects, a proven track record and stay updated with industry trends and technologies. John also holds a Clean Energy Council accreditation.

Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Renewable Energy from the University of Tasmania


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