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The PV industry continues to advance its accreditation as a technology that addresses one of the axiological challenges of our times – altitude change. 5.5 GW of new PV accommodation was installed common in 2008, bringing the absolute installed accommodation to 15 GW. And the European Photovoltaic Industry Affiliation (EPIA) predicts 2009 could see 7 GW of new capacity, and absolute accommodation could ability 22 GW by 2013.

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First Solar has developed a action for recycling CdTe thin-film modules. The action has been scaled to abounding assembly at anniversary of its accomplishment accessories in the US, and is actuality replicated in Frankfurt an der Oder, Germany.

Under Aboriginal Solar’s pre-funded bore accumulating and recycling programme, Aboriginal Solar manages the acumen of accession end-of-life modules, and provides packaging and busline to a recycling centre.

The recycling action itself allegation be financed. Aboriginal Solar affairs the programme by ambience a funds for accumulating and recycling at the time of bore sale.

The action can balance 90% of the bottle for use in new articles and 95% of the semiconductor abstracts for use in new solar modules.

According to BNL, the accretion of tellurium is 80% or bigger and it can be awash as bartering brand (99.7% Te).

However, in its whitepaper Toward a Aloof and Acceptable Solar Activity Coalition the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) argues that for solar to be absolutely green, industry allegation abate and eventually annihilate the use of baneful abstracts and advance environmentally acceptable practices. Further, it maintains that producers allegation booty albatross for the lifecycle impacts of their articles by testing new abstracts and processes, accretion recycling technologies, and designing articles for accessible recycling. In short, SVTC argues for continued ambassador responsibility.

PV modules for archetype accommodate substances such as glass, aluminium and semiconductor abstracts that can be auspiciously recovered and reused, either in new photovoltaic (PV) modules or added products. And admitting such decay volumes actuality baby at present, PV CYCLE, the European autonomous PV recycling initiative, says that the industry allegation alpha accumulating and recycling of PV panels as anon as possible, to be accessible for the admission in aggregate over the aing decade.

In November 2007, its commissioned abstraction The Development of the Booty Aback and Accretion Arrangement for Photovoltaic Products, adjourned by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and co-financed by EPIA and BSW, estimated that there will be 35,000 tonnes of PV decay by 2020.

The acceptable account is that recycling of thin-film and silicon modules is already demography abode (see boxes aural this commodity on Aboriginal Solar and SolarWorld recycling schemes).

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And PV CYCLE, accustomed by the European PV industry in July 2007, aims “to apparatus the photovoltaic industry’s allegation to set up a autonomous booty aback and recycling programme for end-of-life-modules and to booty albatross for PV modules throughout their absolute bulk chain.”

The associates accept active a collective acknowledgment committing them to these actions, and the ambition is to aggregate a minimum of 65% of PV modules installed in Europe aback 1990, and recycle 85% of waste.

PV CYCLE’s proposals accommodate accommodating producers to acutely characterization their products, so that owners apperceive how to handle solar panels aback decommissioned, and giving advice to those accepting and alleviative the end-of-life panels. One abstraction that has been put assiduously is to accompaniment a axial blast cardinal and/or internet abode on products.

PV CYCLE is acquisitive to barrage assorted pilot projects this year, the aboriginal accepting started in May (see Chevetogne dismounting). The organisation additionally foresees the enactment of a ecology committee, with admiral from the European Parliament and the European Commission and assembly from NGOs, and a abstracted auditing scheme.

PV CYCLE’s Managing Director, Jan Clyncke, says there is a absolute will to recycle in the industry: “It is not a PR event, it is a accurate project. The industry has aggregate calm and is committed to actualize a autonomous take-back and recycling arrangement and apparatus it as anon as possible. We appetite to booty albatross for the absolute life-cycle of a PV module. We appetite to accomplish the photovoltaic industry ‘double green’.”

“Joining the Affiliation will automatically absorb accordant with the ecology acceding and administration the antecedent and active bulk in a fair way, as said in the PV CYCLE Acknowledgment of December 2008. In addition, the General Assembly of PV CYCLE accustomed aboriginal June 2009, a resolution introducing in January 2010 the acquittal of a accession fee for the collection, the recycling, the acknowledgment of and auditing on appear abstracts and the alpha of an escrow fund,” Clyncke added.

However, speaking to Renewable Activity Focus, Dustin Mulvaney, Switzer Fellow and contributor to the SVTC report, criticised the autonomous aspect of PV CYCLE: “There’s absolutely annihilation that says that the industry absolutely has to fulfil its [recycling promises] by aing the association.”

SolarWorld has operated a pilot arrangement for recycling PV aback 2003, area artificial apparatus are removed aboriginal by a thermal action afore the silicon dent is recovered through etching. SolarWorld additionally recovers silicon from burst solar cells.

SolarWorld re-uses the silicon granules, and aggregate abroad is either awash or beatific for recycling/disposal.

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The take-back of modules is organised via a ‘bring-in’ arrangement at SolarWorld.

According to PV CYCLE’s 2007 study, both recycled and new wafers are of according bulk electrically afterwards accepting undergone solar corpuscle processing.

SolarWorld’s recycling action tries to accumulate as abounding of the aboriginal dent array as possible.

The action can balance added than 84% of the ascribe bore weight with up to 6N abstention of the fractions. The bottle (>90%) is for use in new articles and 95% of the semiconductor abstracts for use in new solar modules afterwards remelting. The activity of the polymer incineration could be acclimated in added processes or for pre-heating new accuse in approaching productions.

The thermal action recovers 0-98% complete beef depending on above-mentioned accident to the modules, blazon of bore anatomy and the solar beef used. If the beef accept bend chippings, micro cracks, etc, they can commonly not be recycled into an complete wafer, and would instead be allocated for accepting silicon raw material.

The lower the array of the cells, the lower the yield. Thick wafers (>200 μm) aftermath beneath accident and can generally be re-etched from solar beef breeding a crop of added than 97%. For wafers with array <200 μm, things are added tricky.

The 6th Environment Action Programme (EAP) is a accommodation of the European Parliament and the European Council adopted on 22 July 2002. It sets out the framework for ecology authoritative in the European Union (EU) for the aeon 2002–2012 and outlines the accomplishments that allegation to be taken to accomplish them. The 6th EAP identifies four antecedence areas:

When it comes to waste, the revised allegation 2008/98/EC sets the basal concepts and definitions accompanying to decay administration and lays bottomward decay administration attempt such as the ‘polluter pays principle# or the ‘waste hierarchy’.

Other examples of European legislation are the EU the Decay Electrical and Cyberbanking Equipment (WEEE) and Restriction of Chancy Substances (RoHS) directives accustomed in 2003 to minimise the bulk of cyberbanking decay branch for landfills and incineration. RoHS restricts the use of assertive substances, whilst WEEE regulates the collection, analysis and auctioning of products, and places restrictions on their design.

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PV panels, though, are not included in this legislation. However, PV CYCLE aims to achieve an Ecology Acceding with the European Union based on the European Commission Communication on Ecology Agreements (COM(2004)412).

Several European Community directives on decay and recycling additionally detail the assumption of continued ambassador albatross (EPR), according to which producers booty end-of-life albatross for products. But again, these are not defined for PV.

There is no accepted federal adjustment accurately administering the recycling of PV panels in the USA but, according to the SVTC, they generally abatement beneath regulations for decay auctioning and chancy waste, aloof as in the EU.

End of activity auctioning of solar panels is based on the Federal Resource Conservation and Accretion Act (RCRA), and on accompaniment behavior like California’s Chancy Decay Control Law (HWCL).

In adjustment to be accounted ‘hazardous’ by regulators, decommissioned or abnormal solar panels allegation abort to accommodated the US Ecology Protection Agency (EPA) Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedures (TCLP) standards in accordance with the RCRA, or on applicative accompaniment behavior like the Californian HWCL.

California’s HWCL is stricter than federal adjustment for chancy decay but, according to SVTC, “of the 73 Bills accompanying to the solar PV industry that were alien in the California Legislature during 2007 and 2008, none addressed the accomplishment or end-of-life hazards discussed in [their white paper]. Most of the Bills focused on accession targets and tax incentives/rebates for photovoltaic adoption.”

Mulvaney warns that companies could accept to move their business abroad if they are burdened with too abounding red tape, a big affair for the Californian semiconductor industry at the moment. However, he additionally suggests that aback the solar industry receives acceptable Government subsidies, there is a case for captivation it to college standards.

Panels allegation be taken bottomward and calm afore recycling can booty place. V.M. Fthenakis and P.D. Moskowitz – at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, National Photovoltaics Ecology Research Center in the USA – accept proposed three accumulating models in The Bulk and Feasibility of Proactive Recycling, accessible on the BNL website.

At the alpha of May, PV CYCLE took allotment in its aboriginal above dismantling of end-of-life solar panels in Europe calm with ally Provincial Domain of Chevetogne and the electricity installer Nizet.

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Chevetogne was one of the aboriginal above solar heating systems in Europe, and one of the aboriginal 16 PV pilot plants accomplished and accurate by the European Commission in 1983. The dismantling will serve as a acquirements acquaintance for PV CYCLE, which affairs to accept its recycling arrangement in abode beyond Europe by 2015.

“The solar modules installed actuality accept supplied clean, renewable activity for the accomplished 26 years. Now that they accept accomplished their end of life, PV CYCLE takes the albatross to aggregate and recycle them. This is a aboriginal above affidavit of the autonomous programme we are about to aeon out beyond Europe. In accomplishing so, we accomplish photovoltaic activity absolutely bifold green,” Clyncke said at the dismantling.

Mulvaney credibility out that the called accumulating archetypal will affect the all-embracing bulk of recycling: “We’re alive with the industry [in the USA] to acquisition out absolutely what archetypal is activity to assignment best on the accumulating side… if we appetite to set up a recycling policy, we allegation to apperceive which archetypal it is activity to be based on, because they are all activity to accept altered costs associated with them.”

From a absolutely abstruse perspective, recycling is absolutely applicable today. As Mulvaney explained to Renewable Activity Focus: “One of the things alive in favour of the solar industry is that the articles – already you get bottomward to the semiconductor – are appealing uniform.” (See Aboriginal Solar and SolarWorld for examples)

He warns, however, adjoin the dangers of bookish acreage monopolies: “The botheration would be that if one aggregation abstracts this out aboriginal and they apparent the process, that keeps any of the added companies from accepting admission to the technology.” This is absolutely what PV CYCLE wants to abstain – and has to abstain – due to European antagonism regulations.

On the added duke an accessible recycling industry could account added bookish acreage issues: “If one aggregation starts accession all of the industry’s panels… the competitors alpha seeing area their added competitors’ modules are failing.” Mulvaney does not accept that this is abounding to advance companies to alpha centralized recycling. “They would apparently aloof not recycle at all,” he added.

Which brings us to the bread-and-er aspects of recycling – is it absolutely financially viable?

“Currently, bread-and-er incentives may be bare to move the PV industry into autonomous recycling. However, this may change in the future, as added bread-and-er incentives may be accustomed to developing apple-pie technologies, preventing abuse and abbreviation CO2 emissions,” Fthenakis and Moskowitz conclude.

On the added hand, Dr Karsten Wambach, Manager at Sunicon, the silicon accessory of SolarWorld, told Renewable Activity Focus that the financially activity of recycling is a catechism of supply: “The decay streams are actual baby … accordingly recycling is hardly applicable today. In the future, with beyond decay streams, it will be a must. The PV producers are able-bodied acquainted of the producers’ albatross and will booty affliction for adapted recycling on a autonomous basis. The arrangement will be scaled up with approaching needs ensuring aerial recycling standards and best convenance approaches with certified and monitored account providers.”

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SVTC has articular the afterward arising PV technologies:

The photovoltaic industry is auspiciously developing lead-free soldering acclimated for the electrodes of the cell, base actual and terminal boxes of the modules. For instance, Mitsubishi Electric alien its new UD5 alternation of 100% lead-free adhesive PV modules in July 2007. Sharp absolutely alone advance adhesive in new articles appear afterwards April 2005 in North America, Europe, China and Japan. Kyocera has developed lead-free solar modules application tin-based adhesive aback 2004.

Mulvaney shares Wambach’s appraisal that PV recycling is not economically applicable today, in the absence of a carbon price: “It’s not absolutely bright that [it’s] a assisting affair for a aggregation to be reusing the panels. A lot acutely depends on some array of carbon tax or carbon pricing, because what makes it inefficient economically to recycle appropriate now is that it is cheaper to use the raw material, alike admitting [using the raw material] is far added activity intensive. … If activity is accurately priced, [i.e. includes carbon pricing] it could be economically competitive.”

Recycling of thin-film panels may be added feasible: “With the CIS [copper indium selenide] and CIGS [copper indium gallium selenide] and the CdTe [cadmium telluride] – the thin-films – [those players are] activity to accept to use recycling in the industry, because indium and tellurium are rare. They’re not begin in acceptable quantities in mines and band to calibration these technologies up sufficiently.”

This is in adverse to ‘traditional’ PV, as silicon is an abounding raw material. The bazaar aqueduct accomplished in contempo years is clearing, with the markets alike currently actuality oversupplied.

Mulvaney suggests that companies may use recycling added as a branding exercise, accepting indirectly, rather than from the recycling itself. As buyers of solar panels tend to already be adapted to the ‘green cause’, he believes branding emphasising recycling accreditation could admission companies’ bazaar competitiveness. “Recycling may become a claim put into bounded solar costs rules or ability acquirement agreements. So those who do not booty aback or recycle will be shut out of those markets.”

PV CYCLE’s Jan Clyncke believes the recycling of PV modules is already economically and technically viable. “The aggregate of assembly decay could access up the PV recycling bazaar abounding faster than expected. Aural ten years time this advantage could be added than acceptable to alter the abbreviating bulk of assembly decay by the accretion bulk of end-of-life PV modules,” he told Renewable Activity Focus. “There are not abounding companies that recycle and there are already PV modules to recycle such as the damaged ones. In addition, slowly, the oldest PV generators [are reaching] their end-of-life and accept to be recycled…this is accepted to be a growing trend, with a cogent admission afterwards 2020.”

So what legislation and incentives allegation to be in abode to accomplish the recycling of PV panels viable?

The SVTC argues that legislating continued ambassador responsibilities, such as accomplish take-back requirements, “will be key to ensuring that these circuitous and assorted solar PV articles can be cautiously recycled.” Authoritative manufacturers amenable for the lifecycle impacts of their articles would accord them an allurement to architecture and aftermath solar panels in such a way as to accomplish recycling and auctioning easier.

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In its 2007 study, PV CYCLE urges producers to “continue to attending for abstruse solutions which would break the battle amid accomplishment modules with a actual continued shelf activity and the affair of ecology appulse and recycling-compatible construction.” PV CYCLE’s Clyncke remarked at the alpha of 2009: “We will alone be able to say that solar activity has become absolutely acceptable aback the activity aeon of photovoltaic modules is closed, acceptance the automated use of recycled raw abstracts all-important to their manufacturing.”

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