Second Life Solar

A Start-up Circular Economy Program at MEO

Michigan Energy Options wants your broken or reusable solar panels!

So we can keep them out of landfills . . .

More than 90% of solar panels components are recyclable. But only about 10% of solar panels are recycled in the United States. The rest are being landfilled. Moreover, a lot of used solar panels are being discarded that could instead be given a second life in other solar  projects.

The U.S. Department of Energy, states like Michigan, and the solar industry are becoming aware that solar waste is becoming a big deal. A recent Harvard Business Review observed:

If we plot future installations according to a logistic growth curve capped at 700 GW by 2050 (NREL’s estimated ceiling for the U.S. residential market) alongside the early-replacement curve, we see the volume of waste surpassing that of new installations by the year 2031. By 2035, discarded panels would outweigh new units sold by 2.56 times. In turn, this would catapult the LCOE (levelized cost of energy, a measure of the overall cost of an energy-producing asset over its lifetime) to four times the current projection. The economics of solar — so bright-seeming from the vantage point of 2021 — would darken quickly as the industry sinks under the weight of its own trash.

MEO has funding from NextCycle Michigan to dig into the emerging issue and devise solutions.

With the State of Michigan, and partners in the renewable energy, recycling and university sectors, MEO is developing secondary market business models for:

  • Repurposing used solar panels for social-impact projects (think solar at affordable housing complexes, nonprofits).
  • Recycling the glass, precious metals and other panel components for reuse in other manufacturing applications.

And, we need your support. More specifically, we need your solar panels.

And related components that are no longer serving the needs of your renewable energy project, be it a utility-scale solar or rooftop solar at your home or business.

We need “feedstock” for this endeavor as we test out logistics, channel markets, exchanges, and financial proformas as we work to roll out this circle economy enterprise.

So, call or email us and we’d be happy to talk to you if you’re interested in learning more and working with us on this exciting—and sustainable—venture.