He wrote the first book on sustainability in solar and has a second on the way. Dustin Mulvaney, a professor at San José State University, has been investigating sustainability in the solar sector and the wider energy transition for well over a decade. And by applying a broad definition of sustainability – beyond the environment to include social justice goals – he believes that the solar industry can avoid reputational risks.
We are happy to present the next batch of energy yield results from the outdoor test field in Xi’an, China. In this issue, we present the July 2020 results with additional analysis from George Touloupas, director of technology and quality at CEA.
A number of companies are now racing to find new materials to replace toxic or otherwise unsafe elements in PV modules, in pursuit of circular economic ideals. In a similar vein, many researchers are also looking for ways to recycle and reuse some of these materials at the end of solar panel lifetimes. In line with these efforts, artificial intelligence and machine learning now play a critical role in identifying new chemical footprints for PV modules and cells.
Circular economy approaches in the solar industry have hitherto largely pertained to modules and batteries. Inverters, meanwhile, haven’t been in focus as much. Although these devices stand for less than 20% of the overall footprint of PV, they also contain significant volumes of valuable or toxic raw materials. Designing such products with their lifespans in mind has therefore become a critical step for the solar industry.
In the fourth quarter, pv magazine’s UP initiative is turning its attention to the topic of PV module recycling. With huge projected volumes of waste edging ever nearer, the topic is gathering speed on a global level. But how can the tension between economic viability and equipment lifetimes of up to 30 years and beyond be addressed? And what is happening in the field of recycling technology? Will it ever be possible to extract the most valuable materials from today’s PV modules?
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