The EU Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment remains the primary legislation setting the requirements for the recycling of photovoltaic panels in Europe. pv magazine examines whether the policy is in need of a drastic update, and what it can be done to improve the sustainability of the PV sector through recycling.
Australia has certainly demonstrated its appetite for solar power. Now, with the average lifespan of a solar panel being approximately 20 years, many installations from the early 2000’s are set to reach end-of-life. Will they end up in landfill or be recycled? The cost of recycling is higher than landfill, and the value of recovered materials is smaller than the original, so there’s limited interest in recycling. But given the presence of heavy metals, such as lead and tin, if waste is managed poorly, we’re on track for another recycling crisis. A potential time bomb could present itself as an opportunity, however, if the global EV industry showed an interest in the recovered solar products.
France’s National Institute for Solar Energy takes a look at the state of play in the European solar panel recycling industry.
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