Features, Featured Articles, Long Reads

Laminate pulled from a solar panel before recycling. Image: Solarcycle.

US-based PV recycling firm Solarcycle has announced plans to build a recycled solar glass manufacturing facility in Polk County, Georgia.

The facility will use recycled materials from retired solar panels to make new solar glass in what Solarcycle said was a “first-of-its-kind” endeavour in the US. This would make Solarcycle one of the first producers of solar glass for crystalline silicon PV in the US.  

This article requires Premium SubscriptionBasic (FREE) Subscription

Unlock unlimited access for 12 whole months of distinctive global analysis

Photovoltaics International is now included.

  • Regular insight and analysis of the industry’s biggest developments
  • In-depth interviews with the industry’s leading figures
  • Unlimited digital access to the PV Tech Power journal catalogue
  • Unlimited digital access to the Photovoltaics International journal catalogue
  • Access to more than 1,000 technical papers
  • Discounts on Solar Media’s portfolio of events, in-person and virtual

Or continue reading this article for free

Representing US$344 million in investment, the facility will be capable of producing enough solar glass for between 5GW and 6GW of PV capacity annually. Solarcycle will also recycle modules at the facility. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2024, with operations in 2026.

Glass from the new facility will be sold back to domestic, US solar manufacturers and “fill a critical gap in the country’s supply chain to build more solar panels in America”, Solarcycle said in a press release.

Georgia governor Brian Kemp said: “Solarcycle’s first-of-its-kind facility is a transformational investment for the Polk County community and will help drive its economy for years to come. In Georgia, our strong energy mix is one of the key reasons our state has attracted generational investments in recent years.”

Indeed, Georgia is also the home of Korean-owned solar manufacturer Hanwha Qcells’ US manufacturing base – a pair of module production facilities with a planned total of 8.4GW production capacity and plans for 3.3GW of ingot, wafer and cell manufacturing, one of the only vertically integrated solar manufacturing plans in the US to date.

Solarcycle’s glass facility announcement follows the news of a module recycling agreement with Qcells for products produced at its Georgia facilities. This deal builds on a number of recycling agreements with US solar developers that Solarcycle has signed since the company’s creation in 2022.

Solarcycle’s business model is based on “high-value” recycling, which it claims can recover 95% of the financial value from a decommissioned module. The company has said that it aims to enable a circular solar supply chain in the US, where recycled products are fed back into the production cycle to produce new, more sustainable solar modules. Currently, Solarcycle operates two recycling facilities in Texas and Arizona.

A recycled glass production facility could be a notable step towards ‘closing the supply chain loop’, as Solarcycle CEO and founder Suvi Sharma phrased it at the time of the Qcells partnership announcement.

But a domestic circular economy is likely still a long way off for the solar industry in the US. The capacity to produce new products from old ones does not exist yet; most solar products are still imported to the country, and capacity for further upstream products like cells, ingots and wafers – as well as other bill-of-materials parts like glass and backsheets – is significantly lower than module assembly capacity.

Additionally, a report from the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in 2021 – referenced in a feature published by PV Tech Premium last year – found that only around 10% of decommissioned solar modules in the US are recycled.

Understanding the PV module supply to the U.S. market in 2024 & 2025. The conference gathers together developers, independent power producers and module suppliers to the U.S. solar market as well as EPCs, banks, investors, technical advisory and testing & certification specialists.

PV Tech has been running an annual PV CellTech Conference since 2016. PV CellTech USA, on 8-9 October 2024 is our second PV CellTech conference dedicated to the U.S. manufacturing sector. The event in 2023 was a sell out success and 2024 will once again gather the key stakeholders from PV manufacturing, equipment/materials, policy-making and strategy, capital equipment investment and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out PV manufacturing in the U.S. out to 2030 and beyond.

Understanding PV module supply to the European market in 2025. PV ModuleTech Europe 2024 is a two-day conference that tackles these challenges directly, with an agenda that addresses all aspects of module supplier selection; product availability, technology offerings, traceability of supply-chain, factory auditing, module testing and reliability, and company bankability.

Read Next

Subscribe to Newsletter

Most Read

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events, Industry Events

9am EDT / 1pm GMT / 2pm CET

Related Post