Solar Panel Recycling Market Share, Trends, Forecast 2027

COVID-19 Impacts Global Solar Supply Chain as Companies Consider Alternate Sourcing Avenues

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak has resulted in a slowdown of the global solar panel recycling market. China with the highest number of PV installations as well as production of solar PV panels is also expected to suffer. This phenomenon is anticipated to impact the global solar supply chain.

China is one of the leaders in renewable energy investment. However, the COVID-19 outbreak has paralyzed the power demand and generation, which could retard the growth of China’s solar panel recycling market. Moreover, the country is witnessing a wave of low capacity additions due to suspended manufacturing and construction works. As such, the market for solar panel recycling is estimated to reach an output of ~894,000 tons by 2027. Hence, companies in market landscape are considering for alternative sourcing avenues to stay afloat in the market.

solar panel recycling market infographic

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Solar Panel Recycling Activities Surge in U.S. to Manage End-of-Life Solar Panels

An increased number of end-of-life solar panels are creating a demand for recycling activities in the U.S. Moreover, analysts of Transparency Market Research (TMR) opine that the U.S. is anticipated to account for the highest number of end-of-life solar panels in the upcoming decades after China. Hence, companies in the solar panel recycling market are focusing on value-grab opportunities in the U.S. As such, the market is estimated to reach a value of ~US$ 600 Mn by the end of 2027.

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There is a growing demand for end-of-life solar panel management in the U.S. Likewise, California had taken the lead in the nation’s solar power generation in 2019. Hence, companies in the solar panel recycling market are increasing efforts to manage and recycle the waste generated from end-of-life solar panels. Prolonged period of technology development and addressing policies associated with the panels have led to increased solar panel recycling activities in the U.S.

Repurposing Silicon-based PV Cells Creates Revenue Opportunities in Battery Production

Researchers are exploring new ways to extract silicon from discarded solar panels to repurpose it into Nano-silicon for batteries in the solar panel recycling market. For instance, in October 2019, researchers at the Deakin’s Institute for Frontier Materials, Australia, revealed that they are unearthing new ways to obtain silicon from waste solar panels by Nano-sizing it for use in lithium-ion batteries. Such innovations are boosting the recycling of silicon-based photovoltaic (PV) cells. This explains why silicon-based products are estimated to dictate the highest revenue among all products in the market for solar panel recycling. Hence, companies in the solar panel recycling market should collaborate with material scientists to repurpose discarded solar cells.

Though silicon semiconductors have a relatively small amount of silicon in solar cells, the material’s value is extremely high. Hence, companies in the solar panel recycling market are increasing efforts to extract silicon from PV cells to prevent the high-value material from going to landfills.

Novel Mechanical and Thermal Processes Accelerating Recycling Rates in Asia Pacific

Companies in the solar panel recycling market have established strong business grounds in Asia Pacific. This is evident since this market in Asia Pacific is predicted to generate second-highest revenue. However, inadequate laws pertaining to solar panel recycling act as a barrier for market growth.

The Asia Pacific solar panel recycling market is one of the fastest-growing sectors worldwide. However, without concrete laws that ensure recycling of decommissioned panels, the region could be drowning in hazardous waste in the coming decades. Since solar panel recycling is still very expensive, research scientists are experimenting with new recycling processes. For instance, research scientist Dr. Li Xiaodong revealed that researchers at Singapore Polytechnic research institute are experimenting with new ways of recycling processes involving mechanical, chemical, and thermal treatment sans the need for harmful acids. These new methods are accelerating the recycling rates whilst companies can collaborate with researchers to gain competitive edge in the market landscape.

new solar panel recycling market segmentation

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Analysts’ Viewpoint

The solar panel recycling market is projected to advance at an explosive CAGR of ~37% during the forecast period. However, the unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19 is anticipated to impact the global solar supply chain, whilst companies in the U.S., India, and Australia look for alternative supply avenues using raw materials and other components, which were formerly secured from China.

Companies are leveraging incremental opportunities in the fast-growing Asia Pacific region. However, issues such as increased disposal costs and over capacitated landfills are likely to impede market growth. Hence, companies should tap into opportunities in Europe, since governments have established a reliable recycling infrastructure in the region and should collaborate with researchers to find new ways of economical repurposing of solar panels.

Solar Panel Recycling Market: Overview

  • Photovoltaic (PV) technology is one of the highly promising technologies for improving energy security and mitigating climate change. All technologies sooner or later enter their end-of-life stage resulting in waste generation.
  • Solar panels have a lifespan of 20 years to 25 years; they need to be replaced after that. Photovoltaic modules carry heavy metal. Hence, they cannot be dumped in landfills. Thus, the solar panel recycling market offers significant potential.
  • Solar panel waste is an increasing concern, as it contains toxic materials that can leach into the soil causing issues with drinking water. Solar panel recycling can reduce waste generation. The recycled material can then be used for the production of new panels.
  • Solar panel can be dismantled into different components and can be recycled with the help of various processes such as mechanical, thermal, chemical, laser, and combination. Thus, rise in solid waste is anticipated to boost the solar panel recycling market.

Increase in Use of Solar Power to Drive Solar Panel Recycling Market

  • Solar energy is inexpensive and environment-friendly. As a result, demand for solar energy has been rising across the globe.
  • According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), solar PV generation increased by 31% in 2018, representing the largest absolute generation growth of all renewable technologies, marginally ahead of wind and hydropower
  • The solar industry is striving to lower manufacturing costs and provide facilities to deploy solar photovoltaic panels. China installed 53 GW of solar energy in 2017.
  • The cost to install solar power has decreased by more than 70% over the last decade, leading the industry to expand at a rapid pace. In February 2018, a 300 MW solar energy tender in Saudi Arabia was won at a new world record low solar power price of 2.34 U.S. cents/kWh.
  • Thus, increase in installation of solar power is estimated to boost the solar panel recycling market during the forecast period

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Lack of Information Regarding Solar Panel Recycling to Hamper Solar Panel Recycling Market

  • Government authorities across the globe have issued regulations on installation of solar power. However, there are no such regulations related to solar waste management or recycling, except in Europe.
  • Nowadays, solar panel waste is dumped into dumping grounds or is mixed with the electronic waste
  • Solar panel waste is likely to generate 200 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than nuclear power plants. The waste contains silicon, cadmium, lead, and other toxic (even carcinogenic) chemicals that cannot be removed without breaking apart the entire panel.
  • Thus, lack of information regarding solar panel recycling is expected to hamper the solar panel recycling market during the forecast period

Rise in Demand for Electricity to Provide Opportunities to Solar Panel Recycling Market

  • Currently, demand for renewable energy has been increasing in the global power generation mix due to the rise in focus on the impact of climate change and maintenance of fossil fuel sustainability. The share of renewable energy sources (including hydropower) in the global power generation mix rose by 26% in 2018 over that in 2000.
  • Growth in global population, expansion in the industrial sector, and rise in infrastructure development activities are boosting the demand for electricity
  • Demand for energy has been increasing owing to economic development of countries and improvement in the standard of living
  • Countries across the globe are expanding electricity generation capacity by installing new plants or by increasing the capacity of existing plants in order to cater to the rising demand for electricity
  • Companies are focusing on developing low-cost renewable energy generation sources due to the implementation of stringent government regulations regarding greenhouse gas emission
  • Rapid growth in the construction sector is projected to create opportunities for companies to invest in the building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) industry in the near future
  • According to the International Energy Outlook 2017, total global energy consumption is expected to increase by 28% from 575 quadrillion British Thermal Units (BTUs) in 2015 to 736 quadrillion BTUs in 2040
  • Thus, rise in demand for electricity across the globe is expected to provide new opportunities to the global solar panel recycling market during the forecast period

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Recent Developments, Expansions, Acquisitions, and New Contracts in Solar Panel Recycling Market

  • First Solar started providing a commercially attractive recycling solution for photovoltaic (PV) power plant and module in 2018. This would help owners meet their module end-of-life (EOL) obligation cost-effectively and responsibly. Competitive and flexible recycling offering enables power plant owners to maximize their return on capital and overall financial returns. First Solar provides a recycling service agreement with two-year termed renewable pricing or an on-demand service for single-event or consolidated module recycling requests.

Europe to be Highly Lucrative Region of Solar Panel Recycling Market

  • Europe is anticipated to be a highly attractive region of the global solar panel recycling market during the forecast period. The solar panel recycling market in Europe is estimated to expand at a significant pace between 2019 and 2027, as the region has the highest installed base of solar energy that would lead to large quantities of end-of-life solar panels in the near future. Presence of large quantities of end-of-life solar panels is estimated to result in an increase in solar panel waste. Thus, demand for solar panel recycling is anticipated to rise in Europe in the near future.
  • Asia Pacific held significant share of the global solar panel recycling market in 2018. Japan and China are the key countries of the solar panel recycling market in the region. Japan accounted for major share of the solar panel recycling market in Asia Pacific in 2018.

Highly Competitive Solar Panel Recycling Market

  • The global solar panel recycling market is highly consolidated. A few international players hold significant share of the global solar panel recycling market.
  • Major players operating in the global solar panel recycling market are
    • Morgen Industries, Inc.
    • PV Recycling
    • Reclaim PV Recycling
    • Silcontel Ltd
    • Reiling Glasrecycling Danmark ApS
    • ECS Refining LLC
    • Envaris
    • SunPower Corporation
    • Reclaim PV Recycling Pty Ltd
    • First Solar
    • Recycle Solar Technologies Limited
    • Total Green Recycling