Team members of the Equitable Solar Solutions' program holding several solar panels in the grass

Repurposing Old Solar Panels With Equitable Solar Solutions

Coldharbour Institute created the Equitable Solar Solutions program to make solar energy accessible to low-income residents in Gunnison, CO. 

“These assets still produce 80% power, so why are we throwing them away?” – Rich Stromberg, Equitable Solar Solutions Director

Solar technology isn’t new. It has been gradually improving overtime, leading longtime solar energy users to update their panels when they become outdated. 

So what happens when solar system owners make a replacement?

Luckily, there are organizations that work to keep older solar panel models in use so  they don’t end up in landfills.    

In fact, most solar panels still have a long work life even after their standard 25-year lifespan. When you take into account the inequity that exists in the U.S. and beyond, it’s easy to see how clean energy can benefit people who struggle with their energy bills.

Colorado Nonprofit Recycles Solar Panels 

Coldharbour Institute, a Colorado-based nonprofit, is a learning laboratory that demonstrates regenerative living practices. It relies on tools, support, and programs to improve the health of the land, people, and communities. 

Their mission is to educate and empower youth and community members to make an impact through sustainability and green solutions. 

One of the ways Coldharbour Institute does this is through their Equitable Solar Solutions™ (ESS) program, which is dedicated to making solar energy more accessible to the low-income residents in Gunnison, Colorado. 

While working with Western Colorado University, Stromberg gave his students a mission. With 12 used solar panels on hand, he asks, “How can we use these assets to create the greatest value for those in our community with the greatest need?”

The students devised and implemented a plan with the city of Gunnison to install the panels on a local ice rink. The rink eventually ended up putting the money that was saved from  utility bills into a program to help low-income residents with their energy bills. Thus, ESS was born. 

Providing Clean Energy for Low-Income Households

ESS acquires old panels from solar companies, or individuals who are upgrading their current home solar installation. The program then helps install the donated solar panels for households struggling to pay their utility bills. 

However, the extremely cold winter temperatures, arid conditions, and high altitudes of the Gunnison Basin create significant challenges to its population. The well-being of residents is greatly dependent on their access to efficient and sustainable energy. This challenge is heightened by the extreme isolation of the area.

Furthermore, climate change is creating a greater demand for clean energy than ever before. With ESS supplying low-income households with used solar panels, the program is combating climate change two-fold. 

First, there is the obvious benefit of harnessing solar energy to supply electricity to homes (and thus lowering energy bills). And second, the repurposed solar panels are staying out of landfills and preserving natural resources. 

[Related: A Complete Guide to Solar Panel Recycling]

Start Your Solar Energy Journey Today

Do you want to reduce your carbon footprint and lessen the environmental impact of your day to day life? Contact solar panel company Freedom Solar Power and we’ll help you lower your energy bills and join the good fight against climate change with clean energy. 

Looking to maintain, repair or upgrade your solar system? Our solar repair and maintenance service department can help you obtain maximum energy production and efficiency.

Call +1 (800) 504-2337 or contact us today for a free consultation!

Featured image via Equitable Solar Solutions