pv magazine video: The pressing need for sustainability in solar


If solar really is set scale to the terawatt level required to achieve a zero-emission global economy, it is incumbent on the industry to provide for product end-of-life reuse and to meet looming material challenges. That was a key message from the presentation by Pierre Verlinden which kicked off pv magazine’s first Sustainability Roundtable event.

Veteran PV researcher Verlinden, who has worked for industry pioneers SunPower and Trina Solar, joined the virtual roundtable from Australia and set out the raw material challenge PV is facing.

“As of today, only a small part of this whole [solar] recycling process is actually used and we recycle very few materials from the entire PV system,” said Verlinden. “We still need to do much more than that. For one terrawatt of PV annual production, we will use 94% of today’s annual production of silver. By 2025 or 2030, we will use 100% [of silver] production worldwide.”

Module recycling is an obvious solution but presents its own challenges – not least the long life of solar panels, which sets them aside from other electronics. Progress is being made in recycling, however calls were made during the pv magazine roundtable for legislation to be introduced to require the process.

There is much more to solar sustainability than recycling, however, and a host of other issues were addressed at the event: from toxic materials and the efficacy of a labeling system based on module recycling to concepts such as panel reuse and refurbishment, and new “eco labels” such as the EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) tag set to be rolled out for solar this year.

The roundtable session is part of pv magazine’s UP Initiative and full video of the event is available here:

In the networking area of the event app, those who registered can download presentations from agenda entries -> to the event app

A big thanks to the sponsors of Virtual Roundtables Europe 2020 from pv magazine

Click here, to see links to the event’s sponsors

The full agenda of the pv magazine Sustainable Roundtable was as follows:

Session 3: Sustainability, June 10, 2020

Why sustainability matters – future challenges and opportunities in manufacturing and technology development in the context of an EU Green Deal.

Intro: Jonathan Gifford, editor in chief of pv magazine global, Marian Willuhn, editor, pv magazine

Impulse: Future sustainability challenges for PV manufacturing at a multi-terawatt level

Pierre Verlinden, managing director, Amrock

Talk: How scaling in equipment design contributes to more sustainable PV production

Sebastian Gatz, vice president for photovoltaics, Von Ardenne

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Panel: Sustainability trade-offs in PV module technology and materials

Michele Vannini, business manager, Coveme

Estzer Voroshazi, R&D manager, imec

Tom Rommens, project coordinator, Circusol

Betrand Lempkowicz, PV Cycle

Talk: Presentation of the pv magazine UP Campaign

Becky Beetz, head of content, pv magazine

Panel: Solar sustainability standards: future considerations and formats

Sheila Davis, executive director, Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition

Nancy Gillis, CEO, Green Electronics Council/EPEAT

Jürgen Reinert, chief executive, SMA Solar Technology

Dustin Mulvaney, associate professor, San Jose State University

Andreas Wade, global sustainability director, First Solar.

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