Project developer AES has signed a recycling services agreement with solar panel recycler SolarCycle and launched a pilot program to assess construction breakage and end-of-life solar panel waste across the company’s portfolio. Under the agreement, AES can send damaged or retired solar panels to SolarCycle’s recycling facility in Odessa, Texas to be responsibly recycled and repurposed.
SolarCycle’s facility is expected to have the capacity to process one million panels by Q4 of 2023 and support more than 100 jobs.
“To strengthen U.S. energy security, we must continue to support domestic supply chains,” said Leo Moreno, President of AES Clean Energy. “As one of the world’s leading energy solution providers, AES is committed to sustainable business practices that accelerate these goals. This agreement is an important step in building a vibrant secondary market for end-of-life solar materials and getting us closer to a true domestic circular solar economy.”
Research by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that by 2040, recycled panels and materials can expect to help meet 25-30% of the country’s domestic solar manufacturing needs. SolarCycle’s patented technology extracts more than 95% of the value in a solar panel, providing an opportunity to reuse materials critical to the large-scale deployment of clean energy. Last month, the U.S. Dept. of Energy awarded SolarCycle a $1.5 million research grant to further test refinement processes and maximize the value of recovered materials, with support from NREL.
“SolarCycle is excited to be working with AES — one of the largest solar asset owners in America — on this pilot program to assess their existing and future recycling needs. As demand for solar energy grows rapidly in the United States, it is critical to have proactive leaders like AES who are committed to developing a more sustainable and domestic supply chain for the solar industry,” said Suvi Sharma, CEO and co-founder of SolarCycle.
In April, the companies launched the first phase of this initiative when SolarCycle transported decommissioned panels from an AES facility in Arizona to the Texas facility. The panels will be processed and value-added materials will be sent to vetted, domestic material off-takers, including several local companies in Texas. AES is assessing current and projected recycling needs that will further enable solar material lifecycle circularity.
SolarCycle also has a recycling relationship with large-scale solar project developer Silicon Ranch.
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