The solar panel recycling agency PV Cycle reported that it had gathered over 4000 tons of recyclable modules, which have a 90% chance of reuse. According to PV Cycle’s executive Bertrand Lempkowicz, the number of these panels collectible from France is likely to rise through to 50000 tons this coming decade. This expectation reveals the need for countries utilizing solar energy to be educated on how they can recycle the waste solar panels.
The EU regulations state in its Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive that a high percentage of the solar panel waste collected must be recycled. The industry that conducts the recovery of the essentials in the used PV modules like aluminum, silicon, copper, and other vitals are called Rousset, situated in the Bouches-du-Rhône area in France. After the disassembly of the solar panel components, they are fed into the various streams where they will be prepared for reuse. Bertrand Lempkowicz stated that the ninety-five percent recyclable solar module rate is the best the firm can realize.
Lempkowicz explains that the remaining 5% is majorly dust contained in the panel filters, which can be reused in the construction industry or burned. As for the filters, they can be recycled and be implanted in the next class of solar modules.
The other components that can’t go back into the solar panels like the EVA back sheet can be washed in washers and gain reuse in the paint industry as binders. The challenge with the reuse of such materials is they require huge quantities of water to clean and hence more environmental to burn it.
Even with a recovery rate of 95% venturing, this business is unprofitable at the moment since there are few solar panels requiring recycling. This concept is attributable to the low number of solar farms worldwide, and hence it would be uneconomical to invest in the solar module recycling business. Lempkowicz reiterates that the wastes accrue because of breakage tendencies, but more reasons to recycle will protrude after a decade of upscaling in this industry.
With the circular economy of reuse, recycling, and remanufacturing taking charge, the PV wastes will catch up with the industry once more solar energy facilities expand into various countries in Europe. The technology to remodel the wasted modules is available. However, the sufficiency of the wastes generated for consideration by companies planning to venture this business is still negligible and thereby unprofitable. To conclude, with the EU still holding on to the recycling layout, other developed countries like the US, Australia, and the Asian countries are hastening the advancement of the technology to handle the waste. This move is due to the expanding development of PV facilities and projects.