Reclaim PV is a step closer to ensuring solar generation lives up to the promise of providing clean energy throughout its lifecycle, and that repurposing of its component materials becomes viable.
Use of the term “circular economy” is growing in virtually every industry worldwide – solar included. As noted throughout Q3, in the UP initiative’s focus on circular manufacturing, work is already underway to integrate circular principles into all areas of business, from internal operations and supply chain management to manufacturing and installations. In a recent analysis of PV recycling, BloombergNEF detailed six conclusions for the solar industry and those who are trying to make it more circular. Cecilia L’Ecluse, solar associate, and Julia Attwood, head of advanced materials at BloombergNEF share these conclusions as part of our quarterly theme on PV module 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.
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