Here’s a great question that comes up both at the early decommissioning planning stage of a solar installation and then again when equipment is nearing end-of-life and is getting ready for a teardown (or repower) – how much does solar panel disposal cost?
Depending on who you talk to, you might field answers like, “Cost depends on how many panels you are removing,” or “depends on what kind of panels you have.”
Landfilling solar assets has been the cheapest option, but most states have either changed or are in the process of changing laws to prohibit dumping solar panels. When the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) conducted a study on managing PV assets, including their removal and disposal, EPRI found that “disposal in regular landfills [is] not recommended in case modules break and toxic materials leach into the soil.”
Since panels contain potentially hazardous materials such as lead, cadmium, and arsenic, any amount of these materials being disposed of improperly could be a serious issue for any company.
Responsible disposal, including auditing of processes, re-packaging, transportation, and recycling, may not be as cheap as using a landfill, but it could protect your business from fines and be less expensive to your company in the long-term.
Solar panel disposal cost can be a figure that depends on as many factors as they relate to your proposed or current installation:
- How many panels?
- What is the condition of the equipment?
- Is there any value to recover?
- Is a physical removal factored into the disposal?
With these factors in mind, and knowing that simply dumping panels is not an economical or environmental sound option, the best answer that anyone can give regarding solar panel disposal cost isn’t that “it depends,” but rather that the cost will be as low as it can be while ensuring that you are responsibly disposing your equipment.