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End-of-life Management of Photovoltaic Modules – Lessons Learned

Posted 19 December 2014 8:19 PM by First Solar

Photovoltaic (PV) technology deployment has grown exponentially recently, resulting in a cumulative global installed capacity of over 100GW at the end of 2012. This translates to approximately 10 to 12 million tons of materials deployed. Sustainable deployment of PV requires sound environmental policies of the companies involved along the whole value chain throughout product lifecycle, including end-of-life treatment. In mature and saturated markets of products like cars or electronic equipment, the amount of waste versus new products is more or less constant in the medium term. In contrast, the PV market is early stage and PV products last 25-40 years: an increasing amount of end-of-life modules and rejects from production can be expected from 2020 onwards all around the world. The increasing amount of waste, the proliferation of module technologies, and the wide variation of materials used require technical solutions for cost-effective and sound recycling of all product types.

The white paper “End-of-life Management of Photovoltaic Modules” examines lessons learned by First Solar in our experience with recycling technology, processes and programs.