Solar Industry Creates Scheme to Recycle Solar Panels in Europe

Solar Panels photo

The Solar Industry Tries to Stay One Step Ahead of Regulators
As solar panels become more mainstream and a higher volume of them is produced, they are bound to attract more attention from regulators. Many of the biggest companies that make solar panels have decided to preempt that wave of regulation by voluntarily joining up and creating the first large-scale scheme to recycle solar panels in Europe. The goal is to have the system in place by the end of this year.

"We will be the first in Europe to establish such a system. And I could well imagine that it will become a model for other countries," said PV Cycle President Karsten Wambach, who also heads SolarWorld's Solar Material division.

The new PV Cycle association embraces about 17 solar companies including Q-Cells, SolarWorld, Sharp, Kyocera and First Solar, as well as German solar industry association BSW and the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA).

Broken solar panels photo

Recycling of solar panels should stay pretty low for a while, though. Solar cells have a useful life of many decades if nothing out of the ordinary happens to them, and so far most recycled panels have been flawed or damaged modules.

But these numbers are bound to trend up. About 16,000 tonnes are expected to be sent back in Europe by 2015, compared to 2,000 tonnes last year.

Turning Old Solar Panels into New Solar Panels?
The cost of making a solar panel from a recycled one is about the same as from new materials, but on the energy side, it only takes about 1/3 of the energy. We can also expect that as recycling volume goes up, a cost advantage will develop.

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