Odessa, Texas, September 7, 2023 — Greenbacker Renewable Energy Company LLC (“Greenbacker”), an independent power producer and a leading climate-focused investment manager, today announced an exclusive, long-term partnership with SOLARCYCLE, a technology-based solar recycling company, to secure high-value, cost-effective recycling for decommissioned solar panels.
SOLARCYCLE, in its second year of operation, has grown its infrastructure footprint nationally through high-volume contracts. The company deploys cutting-edge research and design (R&D) to increasingly sell higher-purity materials back into the domestic supply chain. SOLARCYCLE’s rapid expansion has created economies of scale that help ensure that committed partners like Greenbacker are paying the lowest possible price for advanced solar recycling.
Today’s strategic partnership provides Greenbacker’s fleet—which currently includes over 975 megawatts1 of operating solar projects—a committed recycling partner and offers SOLARCYCLE a contracted volume of end-of-life panels that will help to scale its recycling operations and build out a domestic supply chain for solar manufacturing and assembling.
“By committing to this exclusive, multi-year partnership with SOLARCYCLE, we’ve created a cost reduction roadmap that aligns with Greenbacker’s long-term owner-operator mindset,” said Jared Porpiglia, vice president of procurement at Greenbacker. “Greenbacker is receiving access to advanced solar panel recycling at cost-effective rates because we’re helping SOLARCYCLE hit the scale needed to extract and sell even more value from each recycled panel—all while furthering our mission to empower a sustainable world.”
SOLARCYCYCLE was also chosen as a partner because the recycler can meet Greenbacker’s rigorous sustainability and compliance goals for retired solar panels. These include rapid testing for overall health and potential reuse of panels; low-cost, eco-friendly recycling to extract core materials; and advanced tracking and reporting of sustainability metrics (e.g., number of panels recycled, and pounds of material diverted from landfills).
SOLARCYCLE’s proprietary technology allows for the extraction of 95% of the value from recycled panels, including silver, silicon, copper, aluminum, and glass from recycled panels, a significant increase over the industry standard—which is currently below 50%.
“We’re partnering with SOLARCYCLE because we believe that innovation and scale are key to driving down costs for companies like Greenbacker, who want to recycle, rather than landfill,” said Shannon Scarbrough, Greenbacker’s sustainability program manager. “Through this collaboration, we’re supporting green jobs, supply chain resilience, and a circular clean energy economy, while continuing to serve one of our core values: responsible environmental stewardship.”
SOLARCYCLE will be employing tailored recycling solutions at a number of Greenbacker assets across the country, including two of Greenbacker’s largest solar projects in New York State, the utility-scale Albany 1 and Albany 2 projects (both 25 MWdc). Given the national footprint of Greenbacker and its affiliates—500 assets2 across 33 states, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Washington, DC—the partnership will also serve as a model for the solar industry and other stakeholders on how to build out a low-cost and sustainable domestic circular supply chain in America.
“At SOLARCYCLE, we have a technology platform, world-class operations, and a cost-reduction roadmap that is making it an obvious choice for the world’s largest solar companies to recycle. This exclusive, long-term partnership with Greenbacker provides our team with further assurances to add more factory capacity and reach economies of scale sooner,” said Jesse Simons, chief commercial officer and co-founder of SOLARCYCLE. “As we grow and secure additional exclusive partnerships with sustainability-minded companies like Greenbacker, the cost of advanced recycling becomes increasingly attractive. We are grateful for the trust and long-term partnership of Greenbacker, whose leadership will ensure that solar only grows more sustainable in the next few decades.”
While the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) previously estimated that it was cheaper to landfill than to recycle, industry partnerships like this one demonstrate how scaling through long-term agreements can reduce the price gap between the two end-of-life strategies, while also driving a more secure solar panel supply chain. Ultimately, mining and refining existing solar panel waste streams in the U.S. can become the dominant source of materials for a domestic clean energy manufacturing base, while fighting the climate crisis, supporting national security, and creating high-quality jobs.
In 2022, the DOE committed to supporting the industry through R&D to cut the cost of recycling in half by 2030. This past May, the department awarded SOLARCYCLE with a grant to study cost reduction strategies specific to mining and refining the metals from an old panel to make a new panel. Current estimates from SOLARCYCLE’s Texas facility have shown that one old watt of recycled solar can be transformed into 1.4 new watts, which suggests that America will be able to endlessly recycle old panels into new panels.
1 As of June 30, 2023. All total assets and megawatts statistics include those projects where the Company has contracted for the acquisition of the project pursuant to a Membership Interest Purchase Agreement (“MIPA”). All portfolio metrics discussed are unaudited estimates and subject to change.
2 As of June 30, 2023.