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Solar Production Technology
Module Recycling to Become Obligatory
Photo gallery to the topic Module Recycling to Become Obligatory
Difficult to recycle:show photos
Crystalline solar cells consist of silicon and silver, among other things. To date, there is no procedure suitable for series production to retrieve these components. (Photo: Solarworld)
In the module shredder:show photos
Thin-film manufacturer First Solar separates glass in its recycling plant with such a great purity that float glass manufacturers can directly reuse it. (Photo: First Solar)
No more leniency:show photos
The President of the EU Commission, José Manuel Barroso, has been demanding for a long time that solar modules should fall under the WEEE electrical waste guidelines. (Photo: EU)
Pure enough?show photos
Module glass must have outstanding optical properties. So that old glass can be used for new panels, special recycling procedures must still be developed. (Photo: Centrosolar)
In 2007, the photovoltaic industry was still dominated by great idealism. At that time, the manufacturers agreed at the Photovoltaics Fab Managers Forum in Leipzig to introduce higher environmental standards and low-emission lines. And when the recycling organisation, PV Cycle, was founded a few months later, over 100 companies immediately joined. They wanted to take responsibility for the waste that their products will also become after 25 to 30 years. For this reason, the solar modules were to be voluntarily collected and recycled at the end of their life.
Unfortunately, the green vision became a distant prospect. Instead of the photovoltaic boom reducing demand, instead of investing in green solar factories, budgetary constraints rule the manufacturers. There is even a problem with PV Cycle: Instead of being able to recycle at their own pace, the EU wants to make the solar industry conform to the European WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive). The industry wanted to avoid exactly this red tape due to its immense administrative cost. However, Brussels is decided: “The EU committees have agreed: In the future, modules should fall under the WEEE,” says Oliver Schäfer, director of market development of the US manufacturer, Sunpower. He expects the amendment to the law to be approved by the spring of 2012.