Slowly but surely, environmental concerns are making their way into mainstream thought throughout the PV industry. A look at recycling offers an example of this, with stakeholders trying to get ahead of the high volumes of end-of-life modules already on the horizon. pv magazine examines the technologies that will be needed, alongside policy and economic support, to keep the bulk of these modules out of landfill and ultimately to establish a circular economy for PV materials.
In February, non-profit EU solar panel recycling body PV Cycle announced it had collected 5,000 tons of modules in France, of which 94.7% could be recycled. A reader asked us about the remaining 5.3% and here, PV Cycle’s communications manager, Bertrand Lempkowicz, responds.
The solar industry faces many challenges in its move to become truly sustainable and that goal is imperative, rather than being simply a luxury, if the sector is to achieve terawatt scale. pv magazine’s first Sustainability Roundtable took place on June 10 and included discussion as to why sustainability matters in PV and which business, regulatory and technological approaches can be applied to achieve truly “green” solar power. A video of the event can be streamed online.
France’s National Institute for Solar Energy takes a look at the state of play in the European solar panel recycling industry.
Illegally re-badged panels were sold on to Senegal, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Turkey and even Syria. Italian authorities found 60 tons of panels which will be examined.
PV Cycle has said it collected more than 280,000 solar panels at the end of their lifecycle in France last year, including 200 tons from the nation’s overseas territories.
Research has found even short-lived, 10 to 15-year solar panels could provide enough return for bankable projects. The researchers believe panel costs, coupled with an industry mindset now fixed on the final solar energy price rather than costs per kilowatt installed, may open opportunities for PV products currently snubbed because of a short lifecycle.
The Global Solar Council (GSC) held its general assembly at last week’s Solar Power International (SPI) in California, where it announced new board members and said it will work towards crafting a unified message for the solar industry. All five working committees of the council are expected to contribute to this new task.
The French environmental services provider has secured a 4-year contract from PV cycle for the treatment of end-of-life photovoltaic modules.