Veolia opens solar module recycling facility in France

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The French environmental services provider Veolia announced it will build a solar module recycling facility at its industrial site in Rousset, Bouches-du-Rhône, southern France.

The facility will be operated by the company’s unit Triade Electronique under a 4-year contract awarded by PV CYCLE, the Pan-European take-back and recycling association.

Veolia stressed that secondary raw materials such as glass, aluminium and copper will be re-injected into their respective industries on the basis of the principles of the circular economy.

The company said that approximately 1,400 tonnes of raw material will be treated at the facility by the end of this year. Veolia added it expects to treat over 4,000 tonnes of recycling materials by the end of the contract period.

PV CYCLE France was founded in 2014 by the French PV sector. Its governance is ensured by local companies and associations EDF ENR Solaire, EDF ENR PWT, Urbasolar, PV CYCLE aisbl, Sillia VL, le Syndicat des Energies Renouvelables et Voltec Solar.

Recycled PV materials could be worth $15bn by 2050, according to a study published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Energy Agency’s Photovoltaic Power Systems Program (IEA-PVPS) in June 2016.

The report found that the potential material influx provided by the estimated 78 million tonnes of PV waste by 2050 could produce two billion new panels, and thus increase the security of future PV supply or other raw material-dependent products.

The European Union (EU) has already introduced PV-specific waste regulation requiring all panel producers that supply modules to the EU market to finance the costs of collecting and recycling end-of-life PV panels put on the market in Europe.