More than 5,000 tons of modules collected for recycling in France

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From pv magazine France.

Solar waste organization PV Cycle recycled more than 280,000 end-of-life photovoltaic panels in France last year. Around 95% of them, PV Cycle said, will be processed at the Triade Électronique factory in Rousset, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department of southern France.

The factory is operated by a unit of French environmental services provider Veolia which specializes in the treatment of waste electrical and electronic equipment. The panels are ground and separated into glass, silicon, plastics and copper.

PV Cycle said the annual volume collected has multiplied by a factor of more than 13 since solar waste recycling began in earnest in 2015. In 2030, the amount collected is expected to reach 50,000 tons, the organization added.

Expansion plans

To cope with the expected increase, PV Cycle plans to open further treatment units in the short and medium term and the recycling body said it is exploring options for a second treatment unit in France.

PV Cycle France was founded in 2014 by the French solar sector. It is governed by the ENR Solaire and ENR PWT units of French energy giant EDF, Swiss-owned solar project developer Urbasolar, the Sillia VL module manufacturing business owned by Austria-based Recom, French module maker Voltec Solar and renewables trade body the Syndicat des Energies Renouvelables.

The EU has 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 products.

In October 2018, a consortium of 11 companies and five research institutes from nine EU countries published findings which demonstrated the end-of-life management and recycling of PV modules was highly economical.

New editorial agenda

pv magazine launched the UP campaign in May to effect truly sustainable action in the solar and storage industries. To date, we have held our first quarterly topic looking at the use of lead in c-Si modules; held a webinar with initiative partner SMA on greenwashing vs. verifiable sustainability; conducted a sustainability survey; unveiled our sustainable champions for 2019; and placed a spotlight on a host of other sustainability issues, from biodiversity to air travel. In the current quarter we will focus on raw material sourcing for batteries.