Sunrun signs on to recycle solar panels with Solarcycle


Today Solarcycle is launching its new technology-driven recycling platform with Sunrun as its first partner.

Solarcycle, based in Northern California, was founded this year by industry experts from leading institutions such as Solaria, NEXTracker, Sierra Club, and the University of New South Wales. The company offers solar asset owners a process for recycling retiring solar panels and technologies and repurposing them for new uses.

Solarcycle’s first partner, Sunrun, is a home solar, battery storage and energy services provider. According to Suvi Sharma, CEO of Solarcycle, Sunrun has >4GW under management and already has several megawatts of end of life panels.  Recycling and repurposing used panels from Sunrun will pave the way for a scalable solution that will be available to the entire industry by year’s end, Solarcycle reports.  

Solar is expected to grow exponentially in the United States, thus increasing the number of solar panels that are ready to be retired at end of use. Needless to say, a lot of people–including 7-year old Neil— are concerned about what will happen to solar panels at the end of their life. That concern is real and growing and is the subject of much study around the world. For example, researchers at the National Renewable Energy Lab have studied how to recycle and re-use solar panels and published research that describes how to motivate the market first to reuse solar panels, and then recycle them by guiding national industrial policy to create a financially viable end-of-life solar panel industry. The researchers’ projections showed that 40% of all solar panels could be reused and recycled using subsidies equal to $18 per panel for 12 years. At that price, a profitable and sustainable solar panel recycling industry could establish itself by 2032.

“As Sunrun deploys PV systems at the scale needed to confront the climate crisis, we’ve embraced the responsibility and opportunity of managing the full lifecycle of our hardware,” said Mary Powell, CEO, Sunrun.  “We are committed to sustainable end-of-life processes and excited to partner with an innovative company that shares our vision and is dedicated to creating a circular supply chain for the solar industry.”

Solarcycle has designed a recycling solution that the company says can recover more than 95% of vital materials that can be re-used. “By vertically integrating our operations into a factory that can process gigawatts of solar annually, we can radically reduce costs and the climate impacts of the recycling process,” said Pablo Dias, co-founder and CTO of Solarcycle.

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