Sustainability and Autarco
Why is it important to think about recycling right now?
The first solar panels which have been installed in the Netherlands are approximately 10 years old. The expected lifetime of a solar panel is 25 years. Therefore the amount of solar panels that are currently sent to recycling centres is very low. However, solar is becoming increasingly attractive to a wide range of potential users and therefore the amount of solar panels which will eventually need to be recycled is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years. For that reason it is important to carefully consider what the best approach is for recycling solar panels.
Who do we work together with?
Autarco is a member of the Stichting OPEN foundation.
As a distributor and producer of electronic devices, we are responsible for facilitating the recycling and collection processes of our solar panels. For every solar panel we produce we pay a fixed fee to Stichting OPEN. This fee ensures that the solar panels can be recycled after their economic lifetime.
When should I replace my solar panels?
The output of a solar panel depreciates every year. Autarco’s solar panels have an insured linear 25-year performance guarantee, usually between 80% and 85%. This is different for every solar panel. You can find the exact linear performance guarantee on the solar panel’s datasheet, which are available on our downloads page.
After the end of the linear performance guarantee period the output of the solar panel is no longer guaranteed and therefore it is sensible to replace them for newer and more efficient solar panels.
How can I recycle my solar panels in the Netherlands?
There are three different ways our solar panels can be collected before they are recycled.
- Through a local recycling centre: You can dispose of your unwanted solar panels at a local recycling center.
- The second way is through Stichting OPEN. Check this link for the terms and conditions. Due to Autarco contributing to stichting OPEN, this is free for you. You can make an appointment by calling this number: 079 760 06 85.
- The third way is to bring your solar panels to collection points. These are local businesses who can collect electronic devices free of charge. You can find collection points in your neighbourhood by clicking on this link.
What are the benefits of this centralized approach? The solar panels directly go from collection location to the recycling plant, ensuring C02 is kept to a minimum since unnecessary transport is avoided as much as possible. The recycling plants of our solar panels are located in Belgium and Germany.
How are our solar panels recycled?
Our solar panels are mainly made of glass, polymers, aluminium and silicon. This ensures that 90% of a solar panel can be recycled (Source).
The first step of the recycling process is to remove the aluminium frames of the solar panels. Subsequently the electrical components are removed from the panels. What remains is a glass sheet with solar collectors attached to it. The glass sheet is grinded into 5mm large grains. Magnets and filters ensure that the grinded grains of glass and solar collectors are separated from each other.
Where are the recycled materials of our solar panels used for?
The residual product of the recycling process of our solar panels are small pieces of glass. These can be used for a variety of purposes, such as the production of insulation material. The aluminium frames are melted back to the original raw material, and can be repurposed for the production of telephones, cars or even better, new solar panels.