Leveraging its recent partnership with Solarcycle, a solar power recycling firm, renewable energy developer, owner and operator EDP Renewables North America, is launching a new program to find new uses for solar power equipment at the end of its useful life.
The Close the Loop Program is focused on more efficient use of resources and materials, promoting solutions that extend the solar power product lifecycle, and ensuring responsibility for product materials and assets. In addition to its work with Solarcycle, EDP has partnerships with 18 other companies in the recycling services sector throughout North America.
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the US will need to install as many as 20 times the solar photovoltaic panels than are installed today to meet national 2050 decarbonization goals. Solar panels with longer lives could help achieve this goal, as could new designs that use fewer materials and require less time to manufacture.
Materials used in solar panels include photovoltaic-quality glass, silicon and metals such as steel and copper. Solar arrays are also built from wiring, racking, power electronics, sensors and power inverters, according to the Department of Energy.
The DOE has stated there could be potential for a “circular economy” for solar panels using strategies such as reducing the use of virgin materials to build panels, reuse old solar gear and extend the lifespan of solar power products.
In 2022, NREL found recycled materials from the solar energy sector could meet about 25-30% of domestic solar manufacturing needs in the US by 2040, with some degree of government support.
According to EDP, efforts like Close the Loop could be a step toward a circular solar power economy, hence its name.
“As an innovative solar recycling company with industry-leading technology that can recycle and recover over 95% of the valuable material from a solar panel, we are thrilled that EDP Renewables North America has chosen Solarcycle as a top, trusted partner for its new Close the Loop Program,” said Suvi Sharma, CEO and Co-Founder of Solarcycle. “With this new partnership, EDP is not only demonstrating its leadership on sustainability, but also joining us in our mission to build a more circular industry that strengthens the solar supply chain.”
Globally, EDP Renewables has set a target of 85% waste recovery by 2026 covering total waste during the construction, operational and dismantling phases of its projects’ lifecycle, with an ambition to take that figure to 90% total waste recovered by 2030. This move comes as EDP Renewables aims to aid in global decarbonization goals laid out at COP28 through the deployment of more than 4 GW of new renewable energy assets per year, reaching 17 GW of gross additions by 2026.
In addition to working with Solarcycle, EDP will be collaborating across the solar, wind and energy storage sectors with several recycling leaders including ALAMO1, Eco Environmental, ERI, Everpoint Services, FabTech Solar Solutions, Green Century Recycling, Green Clean Solar, Logisticus Group, Ontility – powered by TerrePower, Powerhouse Recycling (dba Solarpanelrecycling.com), ReElement Technologies, TPI Composites, Vestas, We Recycle Solar, Wind Power Solutions, and WindWorx Renewable Services.