Wednesday, July 12th, 2023

Case study: converting a press release into a useful article

photograph of a solar farm on a hillside in Japan

What follows is a piece of practice writing based on the first press release to hit my inbox that day. I’ll pick a press release at random, then rework it into a brief 250-350 word article suitable for a news site. It helps keep my skills fresh.

My target was a release about solar panel recycling that should have been the solid base for an article. Instead it was a dry and uninteresting piece that lacked anything useful beyond a couple of paragraphs, and the contents of the market research report the firm was promoting. 

As it had already been republished on several news sites more or less verbatim, my challenge was to spin it into something unique.

When faced with this challenge, I’ll usually pull back and add more context for the reader. For this piece I researched some of the drivers for the solar panel market, using hints from the release so it wasn’t completely independent from it. I maintain a watch on greentech markets, so this wasn’t a huge stretch.

Aside from the CAGR (compound interest rate) and a total amount of growth, there were no numbers that might set the market in context. This required a little spreadsheet work to calculate.

Finally, I included some of the links from my research. In a live piece I’d deep link to other articles on the site that have relevance. For outbound links I chose ones that were neutral – government, wikipedia and press releases on company sites.

In all it took about 2 hours to put together. The title is lifted from the press release.

Solar Panel Recycling Market Size to grow by USD 417.08 million from 2022 to 2027

Research from Technavio predicts the solar panel recycling marketing will grow $417 million by 2027. Representing a CAGR of 27% over the period, it suggests an approximate market size of $600 million.

Current estimates put the market at under $200 million. Yet the broader use of solar panels, combined with more coming to the end of their life due to age or damage, represents a significant opportunity. A typical solar panel will last 25 years, and the earliest installations are retiring. With an estimated 90% of these panels dumped in landfill, there is a large market to tap into.

Solar panels are difficult and expensive to recycle. After removing external components, high temperatures and chemicals separate glass, silver and other materials. Some compounds can be toxic, requiring further treatment or specialist processing.

Recycling capacity is already expanding, with several US and European plants scaling or planned. As more panels can be recycled, so costs are expected to fall. 2025 could see a glut of panels appearing as first-generation solar farms retire.

Several energy generators have signed contracts with recyclers to secure end-of-life capacity before the rush. Danish firm Orsted recently agreed with SOLARCYCLE to process their decommissioned solar panels. Before recycling, discarded units are assessed for possible reuse, extending their life and reducing waste further. Only then will panels go to recycling, and around 95% of their materials recovered.

Governments are also taking action. The EU’s WEEE directive has required 85% of decommissioned solar panels to be recycled since 2018, resulting in a $50 million market within the bloc. At the other end of the scale, Western Australia has set aside AUS$2.4 million to recycle up to 22,000 discarded panels a year. China, Japan and the US are expected to introduce similar targets.

These initiatives and growing public concern about end-of-life recycling for solar panels are likely to drive the market further. Given that Technavio revised their projected CAGR upwards from 26% last year to 27%, it seems inevitable market growth can only accelerate.

My name is Ross Hori

I'm a freelance writer, designer and photographer. By day I create articles, features and reports. At night I take photos and write fiction. Find out more.