Solar photovoltaic systems, solar thermal and concentrating solar power technologies have a life expectancy of upwards of 30 years. As the volume of solar installations in the US grows, the industry is planning ahead to create a national PV module recycling program. SEIA members are currently engaged in developing collection and recycling processes for the solar industry, and are committed to guiding both state and federal regulations that support safe and effective collection and recycling models.
Photovoltaic panels are designed to last more than 25 years, and many manufacturers back their products with performance guarantees backed by warranties. The lifespan of a solar photovoltaic panel is approximately 20-30 years, while the lifetime of an inverter is approximately 10 years. Therefore, many solar products have not yet reached end-of-life, and in fact, panels installed in the early 1980s are still performing at levels close to the installation performance level. Several SEIA members operate take-back and recycling programs or engage with suitable waste handlers and disposers for their products.
Many SEIA members recognize the importance of an entirely sustainable product lifecycle and adhere to ISO 1400 and ISO 2600 management standards.
Current Recycling Regulations
End-of-life disposal of solar products in the US is governed by the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and state policies that govern waste. SEIA works collaboratively with regulators to reasonably develop implementable regulations and manageable processes for compliance.