collecting and recycling end-of-life PV panels put on the market in Europe. Lessons can be learned from the experience of the EU in creating its regulatory framework to help other countries develop locally appropriate approaches. End-of-life management could become a significant component of the PV value chain. 1 As the findings of the report underline, recycling PV panels at their end- of-life can unlock a large stock of raw materials and other valuable components. The recovered material injected back into the economy can serve for the production of new PV panels or be sold into global commodity markets, thus increasing the security of future raw material supply. Preliminary estimates suggest that the raw materials technically recoverable from PV panels could cumulatively yield a value of up to USD 450 million (in 2016 terms) by 2030. This is equivalent to the amount of raw materials currently needed to produce approximately 60 million new panels, or 18 GW of power-generation capacity. By 2050, the recoverable value could cumulatively exceed USD 15 billion, equivalent to 2 billion panels, or 630 GW. 1. The value creation in different segments of the solar value chain has been studied in IRENA’s publications “The Socio-economic Benefits of Solar and Wind” (2014) and “Renewable Energy Benefits: Leveraging Local Industries” (2016 forthcoming). Potential value creation through PV end-of-life management End-of-life management for PV panels will spawn new industries, can support considerable economic value creation, and is consistent with a global shift to sustainable long-term development. New industries arising from global PV recycling can yield employment opportunities in the public and private sectors. In the public sector, jobs may be created in local governments responsible for waste management,
14 END-OF-LIFE MANAGEMENT: SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC PANELS Reuse Rapid global PV growth is expected to generate a robust secondary market for panel components and materials. Early failures in the lifetime of a panel present repair and reuse opportunities. Repaired PV panels can be resold on the world market at a reduced market price. Even partly repaired panels or components might find willing buyers in a second- hand market. This secondary market presents an important opportunity for buyers in countries with limited financial resources which still want to engage in the solar PV sector. Recycle As current PV installations reach the final decommissioning stage, recycling and material recovery will be preferable to panel disposal. The nascent PV recycling industry typically treats end- of-life PV panels through separate batch runs within existing general recycling plants,. This allows for material recovery of major components. Examples include glass, aluminium and copper for c-Si panels that can be recovered at cumulative yields greater than 85% of total panel mass. In the long term, dedicated panel recycling plants can increase treatment capacities and maximise revenues owing
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- Fall '18
- Julie Summers
- Photovoltaics, IEA, International Renewable Energy Agency