Solar PV Panels are produced by many companies but there is a firm that can recycle its solar panels. First Solar is the first and the only company to do so. Coming to business in 2002, the company has a share of about 5 percent in the solar market. The Solar Panels sold previously were based on thin film cadmiun telluride semiconductor unlike the existing crystalline silicon.
The company has manufacturing facility in the US and Malaysia. The recycling began in 2005, company has a stand alone recycling facility in Germany and is planning to include a recycling facility in Vietnam. The customers are given a choice if they want First Solar to reclaim its old modules. As long as the costs are reduced the customers choose this option.
Sukhwant Raju, First Solar’s global recycling director said,
First solar reclaims and reuses 90% of it’s modules semiconductor material. We have been focused from day one to have a closed- loop process. As we improve panels we want to improve recycling.
The panels are first crushed and then shredded. The semiconductor material is then separated from the glass using a chemical process. The semiconductor material is then cleaned, separated and refined using chemicals to make them compatible to be used in new panels. This process has been streamlined to make sure the work gets completed on time and there are no effluent produced in the process.
First solar is considering to move into crystalline silicon panel recycling. The materials do differ but the process is some how similar.