Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Clean Power

Plant Extracts Used For Making Water Soluble Solar Panels

Solar panel manufacturers, specifically those in the developing countries, use some harmful substances like Cadmium and Selenium which may prove difficult or costly to dispose of at the end of operational life of the solar panels. Water soluble solar panels may be the ultimate solution to the problem of disposal of used solar panels.

40 MW CdTe solar PV project in Germany

40 MW CdTe solar PV project in Germany
Image Credit: JUWI Group (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Scientists at Georgia Institute of Technology and Purdue University have developed solar panels based on cellulose nanocrystal substrates found in trees. According to the information published in the journal Scientific Reports, the latest open-access journal from the Nature Publishing Group, these materials behave like glass and allow sunlight to pass through.

This property can help companies manufacture thin-film solar panels that use cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) as front and back panels instead of glass sheets. Such panels would use organic semiconductor material to generate electricity when exposed to sunlight.

At the end of the operational life of these panels, they can be dissolved in water within minutes.

Professor Bernard Kippelen, Director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Organic Photonics and Electronics (COPE) highlighted the importance of recycling solar panels. Organic solar cells must be recyclable. Otherwise we are simply solving one problem, less dependence on fossil fuels, while creating another, a technology that produces energy from renewable sources but is not disposable at the end of its lifecycle, Kippelen said.

More Solar Power Means More Waste!

The disposal of used solar panels may prove a Herculean task as countries across the world continue to push for solar power infrastructure. We are expected to add about 30 GW of solar power capacity every year, most of which would be based on photovoltaics. The panels have an operational life of decades, perhaps even a century, and have warranties for 95% of original output within the first 20–25 years. According to PV CYCLE, every MW of solar panels generate 75 tonnes of waste. PV CYCLE is an European non-profit organization that ensures that its member’s photovoltaic (PV) modules are recycled. The organization represents 90% of the European solar market.

First Solar CdTe module recyclying process

First Solar CdTe module recyclying process
Image Credit: First Solar

New thin-film solar PV technologies like Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) and Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) are gaining popularity due to their high conversion efficiencies. Solar panels based on these technologies can be extremely harmful to the environment and living organisms. Manufacturers have recognized this problem and have started recycling programs.

First Solar has launched a recycling program for its CdTe solar panels. The company sets aside finances for the recycling process at the time of module sale. First Solar claims that the process can recover 90% of the glass used and 95% of the semiconductor material which can be used for manufacturing new panels.


Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Written By

Mridul currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.


#1 most loved electric vehicle, solar energy, and battery news & analysis site in the world.


Support our work today!

Power CleanTechnica: $3/Month

Tesla News Solar News EV News Data Reports




Tesla News

EV Reviews

Home Efficiency

You May Also Like

Clean Power

Like it or not, policymakers in some US states are unable to stem the solar power tide as Lightsource bp joins forces with leading...

Clean Power

Text version of video 2021 has been a year of ground-breaking discoveries and technology successes for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Below are...

Clean Power

Originally published on Future Trends. Welcome to another issue of our India x Cleantech series! On a monthly basis, we are pulling news from...

Clean Transport

Article courtesy of Purdue University. WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana — Purdue University engineers have invented a new, patent-pending charging station cable that would fully recharge...

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.