The installations of photovoltaic (PV) solar modules are growing extremely fast. As a result of the increase, the volume of modules that reach the end of their life will grow at the same rate in the near future. It is expected that by 2050 that figure will increase to 5.5–6 million tons. Consequently, methods for recycling solar modules are being developed worldwide to reduce the environmental impact of PV waste and to recover some of the value from old modules. Current recycling methods can recover just a portion of the materials, so there is plenty of room for progress in this area. Currently, Europe is the only jurisdiction that has a strong and clear regulatory framework to support the PV recycling process. This review presents a summary of possible PV recycling processes for solar modules, including c-Si and thin-film technologies as well as an overview of the global legislation. So far, recycling processes of c-Si modules are unprofitable but are likely to be mandated in more jurisdictions. There is potential to develop new pathways for PV waste management industry development and offer employment and prospects for both public and private sector investors.
Part of the book: Solar Panels and Photovoltaic Materials