Recycling is something that First Solar has been working on for years. They started out by charging customers a small recycling fee with the purchase price of the module.
With every module sold, they also sold the service that “we will pick up the modules at end of life and recycle them.”
First Solar currently allows customers to choose how they want to recycle their panels via a service agreement that customers can opt-in to. This model lets customer choose another vendor to recycle their panels at the end of life if they decide not to go with First Solar.
Because solar module waste is generated at the manufacturing facility, it makes sense to build recycling capability at the factory, and First Solar is doing this at its facilities in Malaysia and Vietnam.
To mitigate unnecessary shipping, First Solar is working on a mobile recycling unit that can be shipped to a solar farm that’s being decommissioned.
From there, a team of workers could quickly tear down the farm and recycle the panels into raw materials that could then be packaged and shipped more efficiently to the proper location for use in new panels or something else entirely.
The concept of mobile solar module recycling is an innovative process that shows how First Solar isn’t just looking at its needs today, but at the needs of the industry tomorrow and a decade into the future to build a bridge to the next generation of solutions for the solar industry.
First Solar has built its recycling systems based on its own expertise in solar module manufacturing. It currently has version 3 of its recycling technology up and running at its plant in Harrisburg, Ohio.
There is a looming need for end-of-life module recycling that many companies see as an opportunity.
Reference- Cleantechnica, First Solar PR