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Abstract

Recent trends in the international photovoltaic (PV) sector indicate strong growth in terms of capacity and production, which is positively influencing the process of energy system decarbonisation. The aim of this review was to promote productive paradigms for a ‘closed cycle’ economy based on the enhancement of resource efficiency and the reduction of waste. To this end, the articulate framework for the management of end-of-life PV panels was analysed, highlighting strengths and weaknesses from the perspective of transitioning towards a circular economy. The conceptual framework is based on a comprehensive review and analysis of relevant literature to describe the main technological and environmental implications associated with PV energy production. Consequently, this paper highlights the most important critical elements, potential opportunities, and limitations deriving from the technological, managerial and organisational aspects of enhancing recovery and recycling rates. The review and the proposed framework might be useful for further research on this important yet complex topic.

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... A energia fotovoltaica (PV) tem sido identificada como uma das principais fontes de energia na transição da geração de eletricidade de fontes não renováveis para fontes renováveis (GARLET et al., 2019;MATHUR;SINGH;SUTHERLAND, 2020;KUMAR, 2020b), tem apresentado um enorme crescimento no setor de energia renovável (NAIN; KUMAR, 2020a;SICA et al., 2018 ), com a promessa de um futuro limpo e sustentável (LISPERGUER et al., 2020), tornando-se assim uma tecnologia competitiva (DOMÍNGUEZ; GEYER, 2019; SANTOS; ALONSO-GARCÍA, 2018). Sua versatilidade bem como a simplicidade de instalação e uso tornaram-na uma tecnologia popular, ambientalmente amigável e confiável (DOMÍNGUEZ; GEYER, 2017;PAIANO, 2015;TAMMARO et al., 2016). ...
... Esses impactos continuarão se não mudar o paradigma de fabricação atual, onde o fluxo de material é linear desde sua extração, fabricação de produtos, uso e fim de vida quando são desativados e descartados como resíduos em um aterro, assim chamado ciclo de material em circuito aberto associado à economia atual de produção e a coleta de resíduos (LISPERGUER et al.,2020). O gerenciamento de final de vida é uma abordagem para o gerenciamento e tratamento adequados dos resíduos fotovoltaicos (NAIN; KUMAR, 2020c) e desempenhará um papel estratégico na concretização do setor fotovoltaico (SICA et al., 2018). ...
... O setor fotovoltaico tem se caracterizado por uma rápida evolução das tecnologias e tem alcançado níveis crescentes de eficiência energética por meio da redução contínua nas emissões durante o processo EPBT (energy payback time) e de CO2. O EPBT é um índice do tempo de retorno de energia, ou seja, o tempo necessário para uma instalação fotovoltaica específica produzir tanta energia quanto foi necessária para fabricá-la, incluindo a energia usada para construir painéis fotovoltaicos, módulos, cabos, inversores etc. (SICA et al., 2018). Embora a produção de energia solar seja considerada não poluente (XING; XIANG; MA, 2018), a sustentabilidade de longo prazo da energia fotovoltaica dependerá amplamente da eficácia das soluções de processos que serão adotadas para reciclar o volume sem precedentes de painéis em fim de vida que serão gerados em um futuro próximo (FAIRCLOTH et al., 2019;ISSN O painel fotovoltaico é um dos principais tipos de fonte de geração de eletricidade renovável com vantagens ambientais consideráveis durante sua vida funcional, sendo que as novas gerações de painéis resultaram em mais lucratividade e acessibilidade (MAHMOUDI; HUDA; BEHNIA, 2020). ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
O aumento exponencial global nas instalações fotovoltaicas anuais e os níveis resultantes de resíduos fotovoltaicos é uma preocupação crescente. Verificou-se na literatura recente como está sendo tratada a produção, o gerenciamento e a valorização de resíduos dos sistemas fotovoltaicos de geração de energia e as propostas de solução para esses problemas. Na base ScienceDirect, foram encontrados 30 artigos sobre o tema referentes ao período 2012-2020. Os artigos avaliados foram classificados em quatro categorias: impactos ambientais, economia circular, reciclagem e/ou recuperação de insumos e projeção da quantidade de resíduos nos países. No tema “impactos ambientais”, cinco artigos mostraram a avaliação do impacto ambiental da fase de final de vida dos painéis solares fotovoltaicos e o tema Economia Circular apresentou três pesquisas. Quanto à projeção dos resíduos fotovoltaicos, cinco pesquisas mostraram essa projeção nos Estados Unidos da América, na Austrália; na Espanha; no México e na Itália. Reciclagem e/ou recuperação de insumos foi o tema que apresentou mais pesquisas, com dezessete artigos, sendo 14 sobre processos para retirada/recuperação de insumos e três revisões de literatura. Os artigos mostraram tanto a preocupação com os impactos ambientais que o uso da tecnologia trará no futuro quanto as sugestões para tornar essa tecnologia uma fonte de matérias-primas, seja dentro de uma economia circular ou sugerindo processos de extração dos insumos após o término da vida útil dos equipamentos.
... The dramatic augmentation of solar capacity ensures access to sustainable energy. However, it carries within itself a potential impediment to progress-the impacts caused by unregulated disposal and management of solar PV waste at its end-of-life (EOL) stage [12][13][14][15]. In general, two types of waste streams, i.e., primary and secondary, are generated from the solar energy systems before and at their EOL. ...
... It is well understood that if PV material is incinerated or discarded directly in landfills, the result is environmental damage [15,52]. At present, three major recycling processes, i.e., physical, thermal, and chemical, are used to treat the EOL PV modules using a three-step approach of delamination, material separation and material extraction/purification [21,45,50]. ...
... It is essential to realise that PV recycling is at its nascent stage worldwide [18]. Research and development are being undertaken to identify economically viable business models that can be adopted at commercialised scales [15,50]. So far, only those technologies that have proved to be economically viable business models for recycling solar PV waste have been adopted commercially [30,50] and they are only a handful. ...
Article
Increasing energy demands and commitments in relation to climate change have accelerated the deployment of solar power globally, especially in India. Grid-connected solar capacity in the country has increased ∼11 times in just five years, from 2.6 GW in March 2014 to 28.18 GW in March 2019. However, this development has inevitably also led to the emergence of significant volumes of solar photovoltaic (PV) waste, which will only increase in the upcoming years, a considerable challenge for its waste management system. The environmental and human health risks associated with the unscientific dumping of solar PV waste have been well established in the existing literature, presenting the need to develop an effective strategy to manage this emerging waste stream. This paper presents a review of literature about India's solar PV waste management sector with a view to understanding the ground realities and identifying challenges and barriers that hinder the adoption of a regularised strategy for its management using the DPSIR framework approach. It goes on to propose a regulatory framework aimed at mainstreaming the end-of-life (EOL) management of solar PV waste in India after evaluating strategies that have already been used worldwide. In line with the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) concept, a multistakeholder, multi-sectoral and systematic approach has been adopted to develop a specific regulatory framework for India. The framework was subjected to a SWOT analysis to evaluate its functionality. The SWOT analysis indicates that one of the critical strengths of the framework is that it is based on a participatory approach to be adopted by all stakeholders for managing this emerging waste stream.
... Solar panel waste recycling status by Xu et al. (2018) discussed the processes of the retrieval and dismantling of waste solar panels with an in-depth discussion of various recycling techniques and methods. Another review by Sica et al. (2018) addressed the end-of-life management of PV modules focusing on technology, life cycle, production, environmental issues and their endof-life explained into details. The study ended with suggestions and future directions on how the PV industry is becoming a big player in circular economy and how it is being shaped through the lens of natural systems in providing services and goods. ...
... The keywords for this study are within the waste research studies conducted by several researchers on solar or photovoltaic cells. Therefore, these keywords were adopted (Mahmoudi et al., 2019a;Salim et al., 2019a;Shubbak, 2019;Sica et al., 2018) and modified (keywords from the waste hierarchy (Parto et al., 2007) formulated by Ad Lansink) through expert opinions to suit the purpose of this study. A search criterion was then developed to select the required articles needed for the studies. ...
... This shows the attention solar photovoltaics (PVs) waste research is receiving and will continue to receive because of the retirement of old solar PV modules in the coming years. This upward increase and interest in this area of research has propelled several researchers (Salim et al., 2019b;Sica et al., 2018) to look into the end-of-life management of solar PVs. A significant record of 636 publications on solar photovoltaic waste module research occurred in 2018 only. ...
Article
Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, are effective measures to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions related to the generation of power. However, the large exploitation of solar PV modules, leads to undesirable waste accumulation, impacting the environment. Solar PV waste management research is an emerging field which has received more attention recently, affected by the increase volume of solar PV disposal. However, only a few studies have reviewed the current trends in solar photovoltaic waste management. This study reviewed the emerging trends in solar photovoltaic waste management research from 1974 to 2019 using the scientometric review techniques. A total record of 4683 articles were retrieved from the Web of Science database on solar PV waste. The co-word, co-citation and co-author analysis of the retrieved articles were conducted to determine the emerging trends in the PV waste management research. The results revealed that, with a gradual growth in the PV waste management research, performance and efficiency of polymer solar cells have been the centre of recent research due to its light weight, flexibility, environmentally harmless materials and lower cost over the silicon based solar cells. However, it will be years before they are ready for commercialization for specific applications. Thus, the silicon-based modules are the most installed to date and will be coming to their end-of-life very soon. The results also show that, little attention was given to areas like recycling, recovery, policies and regulations on solar PV module waste management. Future research should focus on assessing the recycling potential and emissions from current solar PV modules and the easy remanufacture, recovery and reuse of future solar PV modules.
... As the importance and impact of climate change have become increasingly recognised globally, the rate of uptake and installation of PV modules has increased almost exponentially, from approximately 1.4 gigawatts total globally installed capacity in 2000 to more than 500 gigawatts in 2018 [2][3][4][5]. Although some greenhouse gas emissions are typically involved during the production process, PV modules do not produce greenhouse gas emissions during use, thereby resulting in a minimal environmental impact for each unit of electricity generated [1,4,6]. PV modules are typically rated as having a projected lifespan of 25 years [4,5,7]. ...
... A polymer backsheet provides protection at the rear of the module, and the entire structure is held together using a transparent polymer encapsulant ( Figure 1). The cells are arranged in electrical strings, and the contacts for each string are soldered to metal busbars to allow efficient current extraction [4,6,40]. Arguably the easiest method for diverting spent modules from landfill is simply to refurbish them and reuse them with little to no further alteration. ...
... In order to separate the module components, the module must first be deconstructed. A number of processes and techniques have been investigated for deconstruction of endof-life crystalline silicon modules, including: mechanical crushing and shredding of the entire module, usually after removal of the aluminium frame; thermal decomposition of the backsheet and encapsulant followed by recovery of the wafers; and chemical and combined thermal-chemical removal of the backsheet and encapsulant with the aim of more comprehensive recovery of intact wafers [4,6,14,37,40,[43][44][45][46]. ...
Article
Full-text available
The market for photovoltaic modules is expanding rapidly, with more than 500 GW installed capacity. Consequently, there is an urgent need to prepare for the comprehensive recycling of end-of-life solar modules. Crystalline silicon remains the primary photovoltaic technology, with CdTe and CIGS taking up much of the remaining market. Modules can be separated by crushing or cutting, or by thermal or solvent-based delamination. Separation and extraction of semiconductor materials can be achieved through manual, mechanical, wet or dry chemical means, or a combination. Crystalline silicon modules are currently recycled through crushing and mechanical separation, but procedures do exist for extraction and processing of intact wafers or wafer pieces. Use of these processes could lead to the recovery of higher grades of silicon. CdTe panels are mostly recycled using a chemical leaching process, with the metals recovered from the leachate. CIGS can be recycled through oxidative removal of selenium and thermochemical recovery of the metals, or by electrochemical or hydrometallurgical means. A remaining area of concern is recycling of the polymeric encapsulant and backsheet materials. There is a move away from the use of fluorinated backsheet polymers which may allow for improved recycling, but further research is required to identify materials which can be recycled readily whilst also being able to withstand outdoor environments for multi-decadal timespans.
... It has been argued that innovation in the renewable energy sector is increasingly distributed and interdependent, as it requires cooperation from incumbent and start-up firms, governments, research institutions, service providers, and so on [8]. Because these actors often display their own value chain structures and interactions, knowledge about these structures can provide opportunities for joint value discovery and creation [9,10]. Fourth, the projected scarcity of critical materials, such as tellurium, gallium, indium, and selenium in thin-film solar cell technologies, or lithium, cobalt, nickel, and natural graphite in EV batteries, also calls for a value chain view. ...
... Not much has been discussed about PV recycling because most of the PV systems that are currently in operation have only been installed since 2010. Therefore, PV waste today consists primarily either of pre-consumer waste (i.e., processing scrap from manufacturing) or decommissioned failed panels, and not of end-of-life PV modules [10,54,123]. With no substantial volume of panels to recycle, little research has been encouraged on this topic. ...
Article
Full-text available
As the solar photovoltaic market booms, so will the volume of photovoltaic (PV) systems entering the waste stream. The same is forecast for lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles, which at the end of their automotive life can be given a second life by serving as stationary energy storage units for renewable energy sources, including solar PV. The main objective of this paper is to systematically review the “state-of-the-art” research on the solar PV value chain (i.e., from product design to product end-of-life), including its main stages, processes, and stakeholder relationships, in order to identify areas along the value chain where circular strategies could be implemented, thereby advancing the transition of the PV industry towards circularity. To achieve this goal, we conducted a systematic literature review of 148 peer-reviewed articles, published in English between 2000 and 2020. Results show the PV value chain has been studied from a forward flow supply chain perspective and mostly from a technological point of view, with little regard for circular design, circular business models, and PV reuse. This article thus takes an integrated value chain perspective, introduces some of the barriers to circularity that industry players face, and argues that these barriers represent future opportunities for incumbent and new entrants to innovate within a circular PV industry.
... In 2014, over 90% of the market share was accounted for by silicon-based solar panels. Around 5-7% of the market was accounted for by Cadmium telluride (CdTE)-based technology, and 1% was accounted for by other materials such as dye-sensitizes, concentrator photovoltaics (CPV), and organic hybrids [63][64][65]. Currently, silicon-based solar cells in the market are about 73%, and CdTE based cells are about 10% ( Figure 3A). ...
... (A) Market share of silicon and thin-film solar systems[63]; (B) Changes in crystalline solar cell price between 1976-2020[66]; (C) Change in PV system efficiency between 1995 and 2020[65]; and (D) change in PV system capital cost between 1995 and 2020[67]. ...
Article
Full-text available
This review uses a more holistic approach to provide comprehensive information and up-to-date knowledge on solar energy development in India and scientific and technological advancement. This review describes the types of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, existing solar technologies, and the structure of PV systems. Substantial emphasis has been given to understanding the potential impacts of COVID-19 on the solar energy installed capacity. In addition, we evaluated the prospects of solar energy and the revival of growth in solar energy installation post-COVID-19. Further, we described the challenges caused by transitions and cloud enhancement on smaller and larger PV systems on the solar power amended grid-system. While the review is focused on evaluating the solar energy growth in India, we used a broader approach to compare the existing solar technologies available across the world. The need for recycling waste from solar energy systems has been emphasized. Improved PV cell efficiencies and trends in cost reductions have been provided to understand the overall growth of solar-based energy production. Further, to understand the existing technologies used in PV cell production, we have reviewed monocrystalline and polycrystalline cell structures and their limitations. In terms of solar energy production and the application of various solar technologies, we have used the latest available literature to cover stand-alone PV and on-grid PV systems. More than 5000 trillion kWh/year solar energy incidents over India are estimated, with most parts receiving 4–7 kWh/m2. Currently, energy consumption in India is about 1.13 trillion kWh/year, and production is about 1.38 trillion kWh/year, which indicates production capacities are slightly higher than actual demand. Out of a total of 100 GW of installed renewable energy capacity, the existing solar capacity in India is about 40 GW. Over the past ten years, the solar energy production capacity has increased by over 24,000%. By 2030, the total renewable energy capacity is expected to be 450 GW, and solar energy is likely to play a crucial role (over 60%). In the wake of the increased emphasis on solar energy and the substantial impacts of COVID-19 on solar energy installations, this review provides the most updated and comprehensive information on the current solar energy systems, available technologies, growth potential, prospect of solar energy, and need for growth in the solar waste recycling industry. We expect the analysis and evaluation of technologies provided here will add to the existing literature to benefit stakeholders, scientists, and policymakers.
... With respect to controlling such CO2 emissions, it is essential to consider the combined environmental and socio-economic benefits of raw material recovery. Because of the potential increase of rare and valuable raw materials prices, the economics of recycling PV wastes will improve further in the future (Sica et al., 2018). Proper waste management technique of PV panels also reduces the trends of their use as landfills, which contributes the reduction of landfill footprint and contributes to the reclamation of landfill volume for reuse (Padoan et al., 2019;Kumar, 2020a, 2020b). ...
... Decommissioning of PV panels can be executed through the circular economy concept, where waste management approaches require changes throughout value chains, from production, consumption and disposal of products to new business and market models, from new ways of turning waste into a resource to new modes of consumer behavior (Sica et al., 2018;Heath et al., 2020;Gautam et al., 2021). Such a waste management approach represents unique opportunities to create value by enhancing regional businesses and jobs, and thus, opens up new economic avenues. ...
Article
Full-text available
The paper propose a conceptual framework for handling end of life (EoL) scenarios of solar photovoltaic (Solar PV) panels, which includes different options available to businesses and end-users, as well as promoting the collaboration between government and all relevant stakeholders. The paper adopts purposeful sampling, secondary data and content analysis to develop appropriate conceptual framework that help create awareness of the appropriate options for dealing with the EoL cases of solar PV panels. The data analysis revealed that reuse, repair and recycling of solar PV panels can ensure value creation, public-private partnership and a solution for education in sustainability, and thus, prolonging the useful life cycle of the products. This paper limits the analysis on developing economies and the use of selected literature based on the recycling of solar PV panels. This paper is an initial attempt to create awareness by identifying, analysing and educating the stakeholders to handle appropriately any EoL scenario of solar PV panels.
... Copper is used in cables and the coating of PV cells. Sica et al. (2018) estimated that the percentage share of the c-Si type of solar panel in the market will reduce from 80% to 44% between 2014 and 2030. Few authors have reported the market share of different types of solar panels (Weckend et al., 2016;Xu et al., 2018). ...
... dye sensitized, organic hybrids). Aluminium and glass are major constituents of all types of PV panels (Sica et al., 2018). Indium and germanium are rare metals present in amorphous silicon and indium is mainly present in amorphous silicon. ...
Article
Full-text available
Solar energy has become a leading solution to meet the increasing energy demand of growing populations. Solar photovoltaic technology is an efficient option to generate electricity from solar energy and mitigate climate change. Although the development and growth of solar photovoltaics has had a positive impact on energy system decarbonization, but end-of-life solar panels might become toxic waste if not properly disposed of. Presently in India, approximately 200,000 tonnes of solar photovoltaic waste are expected to be produced by 2030 and 1.8 million tonnes by 2050, by which time solar waste could grow to 60 million tonnes globally. Solar waste has recently been included in the category of waste electrical and electronic equipment to restrict the negative influence of continual development. Recent advancements have been focused only on increasing the efficiency of solar photovoltaic panels without considering the impact of waste solar panels on the environment and the issue of appropriate disposal of waste panels. Effective and ecofriendly methods for recycling end-of-life waste are rarely considered. There is a need to critically investigate and manage the disposal and recycling of solar panels waste. This review article addresses handling and recycling of solar waste, which will be present in large quantities after 25 years. We review multiple adopted technologies to recycle solar waste and technological advancement achieved while recycling photovoltaic waste. Further life cycle assessment of recycling technologies is also discussed.
... The treatment of renewable energy infrastructure at the end of its life is the focus of the second cluster of research identified, which examines the prospect of creating closed-loop, circular economies [47] that can 'reverse' the downstream effects of these technologies through the productive re-use of redundant machinery [48]. Sica et al [47] have noted how extending circular economy principles to 'upstream' manufacturing and 'downstream' end-of-life recovery can potentially reduce energy consumption, resource intakes (some of them hazardous substances), wastes and associated pollution risks. ...
... The treatment of renewable energy infrastructure at the end of its life is the focus of the second cluster of research identified, which examines the prospect of creating closed-loop, circular economies [47] that can 'reverse' the downstream effects of these technologies through the productive re-use of redundant machinery [48]. Sica et al [47] have noted how extending circular economy principles to 'upstream' manufacturing and 'downstream' end-of-life recovery can potentially reduce energy consumption, resource intakes (some of them hazardous substances), wastes and associated pollution risks. A further motivation for applying circular economy thinking is to avert resource depletion irreversibilities for the rarer materials entailed in manufacturing renewable energy infrastructure [49]. ...
Article
The extent to which the impacts of renewable energy development might be reversible is an important dimension of debates about environmental acceptability, magnified in significance by the sector's rapid expansion and the inexorable ageing of facilities. However, despite frequent claims that the impacts of renewable energy are reversible, the complex realities of impact (ir)reversibility have attracted minimal systematic research. This paper addresses this gap with the first review of the research literature on impact (ir)reversibility, focused on onshore wind, and makes a number of contributions. Firstly, it shows that determining whether impacts are reversible or not inevitably entails selective, value-laden judgements about what matters and why. Secondly, a problem with much of the existing literature on (ir)reversibility issues is its abstract and hypothetical nature, detached from actual end-of-life decisions about renewable energy facilities, and their relationship with sites and landscapes. These insights are used to generate a conceptual framework for investigating impact (ir)reversibility-emphasising the benchmark, value basis, object of focus, allocation of responsibility, and regulatory mechanisms and the ways that long-term, end-of-life impacts are governed. The value of this framework is demonstrated through three empirical vignettes from the UK, and used to generate an agenda for future research.
... Some of the recycling technologies have resulted in 96% recycling efficiency (Recycling: A Solar Panel's Life after Death | GreenMatch, 2019). Wafer-based crystalline PV modules and thin film PV module have different recycling processes (Latunussa et al., 1995;Sica et al., 2018). ...
... One of the important challenges of handling the EoL PV modules is their long lifetime. The concerns of producers to reduce material used and to improve the efficiency of PV modules are considered global drivers of EoL PV management systems (Sica et al., 2018). Hazardous components are still in use such as lead and cadmium. ...
Article
Photovoltaic technology has afforded a sustainable and ecological solution for electricity production. In the first quarter of 2019, the global installed capacity has reached 480-Gigawatt peak, as reported by International Renewable Energy Agency. An enormous amount of End-of-life photovoltaic modules will emerge to the waste streams in the near future. A review of available legislation, policies, and guidelines revealed that end-of-life of photovoltaic modules' management has not been addressed clearly in many countries. Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive in the Europe Union is the only available code that has included the end-of-life of photovoltaic modules. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analysis was used to evaluate the end-of-life of photovoltaic modules' waste management in Jordan. A quantitative strategic planning matrix was created to compare between the Europe Union's Extended Producer Responsibility and Private-Public Partnership policy concepts. The quantitative results favor Private-Public Partnership at 5.7 over Extended Producer Responsibility at 4.9 for Jordan. This study offers policy enhancement recommendations for end-of-life of photovoltaic mod-ules' waste management; the proposed policy encourages both the government and the private sector share the responsibility to manage the waste resulting from using renewable energy technology.
... Furthermore, end-of-life (EOL) PV module quantities are expected to increase significantly between 2020 and 2030 because of modules commissioned over the last few decades that are now beginning to come out of service. The global wasteto-new installation ratio is expected to increase from 4 to 14% in 2030 to over 80% by 2050 [4] with cumulative global PV waste quantities forecast to reach 8 million tons by 2030 and ten times as much by 2050 [5]. The need for increased focus on design for circularity and sustainability and for the development of supporting business models and processes capable of highquality recycling, is clear. ...
Conference Paper
Over the last decade, the global solar PV industry has grown at a rate of more than 35% annually, reaching record levels and outpacing annual conventional power capacity additions and will continue its trajectory to reach terawatt-level deployment by 2022-2023 and an estimated 8.5 TW (cumulative) by 2050. The global c-Si cell and PV module production capacity at the end of 2020 is assumed to have further increased to over 200 GWp due to continued PERC capacity expansion. To assess the potential contribution photovoltaics (PV) can make to decarbonization, and to achieving the European and global sustainable development and circular economy goals, the resource efficiency and sustainability of photovoltaic life cycle systems need to be evaluated. Using process simulation, we create detailed digital representations of entire PV life cycles. These include all raw material and PV production steps, as well as recycling processes that close material loops and aim to recover valuable materials from end-of-life modules. The simulations make use of the physical, chemical, and thermodynamic processes that govern each step in the life cycle to deliver a robust foundation from which to determine the potential impacts of individual processes and the system on resource consumption, resource efficiency, the environment, and technoeconomic parameters. In this paper, we focus on the assessment of potential recycling, wafer thickness, and carbon tax effects on the resource efficiency, carbon footprint, and technoeconomic performance of the system.
... While this trend will cause a proportional decrease in Si demand, PV deployment will still cause a net increase-demand for the EU PV sector is expected to increase from 33 kt in 2015 to 235 kt in 2030 (European Commission, 2018). Furthermore, end-of-life (EOL) PV module quantities are expected to increase significantly between 2020 and 2030 because of modules commissioned over the last few decades now beginning to come out of service-the global waste-to-new installation ratio is expected to increase from 4 to 14% in 2030 to over 80% by 2050 (Sica et al., 2018). With cumulative global PV waste quantities forecast to reach 8 million tonnes by 2030 and ten times as much by 2050 (Heath et al., 2020), the need for increased focus on design-for-X (DfX, where X refers to e.g. ...
Presentation
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Various high-purity precious and special metals and metalloids, some of which are critical raw materials, are needed for the production of efficient renewable energy technologies like photovoltaics (PV) that drive sustainable development. To assess the potential contribution of PV to sustainable circular economy, the environmental performance and resource efficiency of a Silicon-based PV module life cycle is evaluated. Process simulation is used to create a high-detail digital twin of the PV value chain, including the end-of-life recovery of valuable materials to be reused in the life cycle. The physical, chemical and thermodynamic processes and losses that govern each life cycle step are taken into account to deliver a robust foundation from which (exergetic) resource efficiency and environmental impact can be assessed. Models are created using HSC Sim, from which large datasets are generated and evaluated using neural networks to map the optima of the system.
... Though presently c-Si modules dominate (over 90%) the market share, it is estimated to decrease to 44.8% by 2030 [81], and the shares of thin-film and emerging technologies are going to increase; hence, the necessity of recycling thin-film PV will surface with a time lag of just 10 years. And this time lag is short enough to identify the status and issues related to it and act upon those now. ...
Article
Link for free download https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1dIAb7tDQ9Gxkh ************************************************************************************* Presently, the world is going through a euphoric rush to install photovoltaic (PV) devices in deserts, over water bodies, on rooftops of houses, vehicles, and parking spaces, and many other applications. The cumulative PV installation is estimated to have crossed 600 GW globally to date and is expected to cross 4500 GW by 2050 due to sustained investment and continual innovation in technology, project financing, and execution. This article presents a critical and comprehensive review of the wide spectrum of present and future PV technologies, not only in terms of their performance but also in terms of the aspects of their end-of-life waste management and ecotoxicity, which have been largely neglected by the researchers and policymakers. The global status of the regulatory framework is reviewed as well, with regard to the life cycle management of PV waste. And It is found that presently, the world is very poorly equipped with regulatory frameworks to deal with massive PV waste (about 78 million tonnes), expected to be generated by 2050. Based on the findings, an immediate and disruptive paradigm shift is proposed in the policy framework, from the promotion of new PV installation to life cycle management of PV assets.
... Photovoltaic panels consist of materials like silicon cadmium, selenium, tetrachloride, sulphur hexafluoride, aluminium, silicon wafers, Indium, Tin, Nickel, Zinc, CdTe filter cake, Silver, plastic, glass, CIGS filter cake etc. On attainment of end life, the materials can be used again to gain economic benefit [13], [34]. Recycling is also to be performed on different solar panel to again utilise their components and materials [35]. ...
Article
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An increased energy demand of the world is met by the renewable sources of energy. In this solar photovoltaic technology has turned out as a major contributor. In India solar photovoltaic sector has enhanced from 1 GW to 28 GW from 2012 to 2018 and reached 32.627 GW on 30 March 2020 as reported by the MNERA. With the soaring installations, solar photovoltaic waste has also been increasing. 200,000 million tonne of waste solar photovoltaic will be assembled in India till 2030 and approximately 1.8 million tonne by 2050. Solar photovoltaic technology includes crystalline silicon panels, amorphous silicon panels, CdTe, CIGS, GaAs panels. Among these crystalline silicon panels are used in India on a larger scale upto 93%. Life cycle assessment methodology is utilised. Environmental effects of c-Si, a-Si, CdTe, GaAS, CIGS on public health are assessed. Major health effects pertaining to different human body organs are also mentioned. The article also targets apparently thriving social, economic influence of the recycled solar photovoltaic panels. Interest of the society and recycling companies is also mentioned in the paper to highlight economic benefits that can be availed from the end life of the photovoltaic panels.
... Photovoltaic Sustainability and Management Perspectives the environmental impacts of the mismanagement of these materials are proving to be quite detrimental (Sica et al., 2018). • Awareness of the potential uses and profitability of recycled materials from solar systems is also an issue. ...
... The assessment of the whole EoL will be envisioned as a crucial technical challenge to be achieved for the next decade. All these actions should be addressed in close collaboration among different stakeholders within the solar PV value chain, including government, industry, technology companies, research institutes, users, regulators, and policy makers (Sica et al., 2018;Chowdhury et al., 2020;Heath et., 2020). On the other hand, new business and circular economy opportunities will arise within the PV industry, including the recycling processes by considering some crucial tasks suggested by Heath et al. (2020), among which stand out: ...
Article
A first life cycle assessment study for the evaluation of a grid-connected photovoltaic system in Mexico was carried out from a cradle-to-grave perspective. The photovoltaic system consists of 12 modules integrated with a multi-crystalline silicon technology with a southward inclination of 20°, a 2.5 kW inverter, and a total installed capacity of 3 kWp, which provides an annual average production of 1282 kWh/kWp with a performance factor of 0.75. This system was installed in a building located in Mexico City. Potential environmental impacts from this photovoltaic system were analysed in eleven categories. The life cycle results show that this technology is within the cleaner energy sources with least environmental impacts throughout its life span. The major environmental impacts were attributed to the production stage, and more specifically, to the manufacturing of materials for the solar modules (which include PV panels, solar cells, and wafers). The multi-crystalline silicon photovoltaic system evaluated in this study was also compared with three conventional photovoltaic generation systems based on different technologies (i.e., single-crystalline silicon, the amorphous silicon, and the copper-indium-selenium solar cells). From this life cycle assessment, it was found that the multi-crystalline silicon system almost systematically exhibits the lower environmental burdens in most of the impact categories (six out of the eleven), in comparison with other systems which present larger contributions of pollutants during their life span. Regarding to the carbon footprint, it was found that the photovoltaic technology with the lowest global warming potential was related to the multi-crystalline silicon system (47.156 g CO2-eq./kWh), whereas the greatest contribution (69.1 g CO2-eq./kWh) was attributed to the single-crystalline silicon system. By considering these environmental sustainability results, a better technological deployment might be achieved which may help to accelerate, and drive a massive use of solar energy resources towards a clean, sustainable and diversified energy future. Finally, the importance of mapping circular economy opportunities during recycling and waste disposal of materials, and the sustainability trade-offs of solar PV systems have been highlighted as crucial research areas and innovation opportunities for future LCA works.
... The cost of the FPV racking would be further reduced by integrating bulk purchased foam into the PV manufacturing process. In addition, closed loop, circular economy [246][247][248] and industrial symbiosis [249] could be applied to the FPV manufacturing process. This would be expected to further reduce the cost of the FPV as well but may also necessitate policy intervention to ensure end of life recycling [250]. ...
Article
Distributed generation with solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is economically competitive if net metered in the U.S. Yet there is evidence that net metering is misrepresenting the true value of distributed solar generation so that the value of solar (VOS) is becoming the preferred method for evaluating economics of grid-tied PV. VOS calculations are challenging and there is widespread disagreement in the literature on the methods and data needed. To overcome these limitations, this thesis reviews past VOS studies to develop a generalized model that considers realistic future avoided costs and liabilities. The approach used here is bottom-up modeling where the final VOS for a utility system is calculated. The avoided costs considered are: plant O&M fixed and variable; fuel; generation capacity, reserve capacity, transmission capacity, distribution capacity, and environmental and health liability. The VOS represents the sum of these avoided costs. Each sub-component of the VOS has a sensitivity analysis run on the core variables and these sensitivities are applied for the total VOS. The results show that grid-tied utility customers are being grossly under-compensated in most of the U.S. as the value of solar eclipses the net metering rate as well as two-tiered rates. It can be concluded that substantial future work is needed for regulatory reform to ensure that grid-tied solar PV owners are not unjustly subsidizing U.S. electric utilities. Even without regulatory reform PV is economic, yet to further accelerate PV deployment the economics of PV systems can be improved. One approach to doing this also provides a potential solution to the coupled water–energy–food challenges in land use with the concept of floating photovoltaics or floatovoltaics (FPV). In this thesis, a new approach to FPV is investigated using a flexible crystalline silicon-based FPV module backed with foam, which is less expensive than conventional pontoon-based FPV. This novel form of FPV is tested experimentally for operating temperature and performance and is analyzed for water-savings using an evaporation calculation adapted from the Penman–Monteith model. The results show that the foam-backed FPV had a lower operating temperature than conventional pontoon-based FPV, and thus a 3.5% higher energy output per unit power. Therefore, foam-based FPV provides a potentially profitable means of reducing water evaporation in the world’s at-risk bodies of fresh water. The case study of Lake Mead found that if 10% of the lake was covered with foam-backed FPV, there would be enough water conserved and electricity generated to service Las Vegas and Reno combined. At 50% coverage, the foam-backed FPV would provide over 127 TWh of clean solar electricity and 633.22 million m3 of water savings, which would provide enough electricity to retire 11% of the polluting coal-fired plants in the U.S. and provide water for over five million Americans, annually. Overall foam-backed FPV thus brings an even greater VOS than conventional PV and indicates that FPV will play a much larger role in our energy future.
... This problem, however, remains largely undocumented in the literature (Guerin 2020). These risks are in addition to disused solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, and how these must be managed, which on the other hand, is extensively documented (Chowdhury et al. 2020, Eskew et al. 2018, Goe and Gaustad 2016, Good 2016, Pandey et al. 2016, Sica et al. 2018, Sinha 2013. ...
Article
Full-text available
The rapid growth in solar PV construction means a concurrent growth in used solar panels and end of life packaging materials. The current study assesses the risks in an integrated manner, from applying shredded end of life packaging materials (EOLPM) to soil at a utility-scale solar energy (USSE) plant. Its aim and purpose is to determine if the EOLPM would pose a potential risk to human health and/or the environment if placed as a soil amendment incorporated into the surface soil (as a surface-incorporated mulch). An integrated risk assessment, drawing upon existing chemical and phytotoxicity data and introducing carbon emissions impacts (including social cost of carbon emissions) from treatment options, was undertaken confirming effective controls and risk treatments from on-site application as a soil amendment (soil improver). Landfilling (30 t CO2e per MW) was estimated to cost $AUD6.8k per MW, compared to the most appropriate and selected on-site option of mulching (0.5 t CO2 per MW and $UAD7.1k per MW). There is broad application of this approach to other remote USSE construction projects where solar PV construction growth is occurring exponentially globally.
... In doing so, this study provides an update to the projection made by IRENA and IEA PVPS [32] by factoring in the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, an extension is provided to this study, and other studies estimating the annual and cumulative PV waste generation [37,28,31,34,38] by estimating the financial costs of recycling as well as the economic value of recovered materials, thereby assessing the PV capacity which can be installed with the help of resale of recovered materials in the Indian context (4) The work comparable to this study is a recent collaborative report on PV waste management in India [39]. While the report provides insights into the recycling rates of various PV waste materials at the end-of-lifetime, the cost of recycling these materials across various stages considers only private costs in terms of transportation, treatment, landfilling costs, etc. ...
Article
Full-text available
This pioneering work employs the attributional and comparative life cycle assessment methodology to evaluate India’s ambitious target of installing 100 GW of solar energy by 2022 and the FRELP method to study the circular economy prospects of the substantial PV waste it is expected to generate. Business as usual projections suggest that the intended target will be achieved no sooner than 2029. The lower lifetime of polycrystalline PV modules combined with their lower efficiency is found to severely downgrade their environmental performance vis-à-vis monocrystalline PV modules. The end-of-life treatment of the projected 6,576 tonnes of solar PV waste, expected to be accumulated between 2034-59, indicates a recovery rate of 90.7% entailing electricity consumption, GHG emissions, and monetary cost of 678.6 MWh, 648 tonnes of CO2 eq., and USD 11.8 billion, respectively. Simultaneously, the recovery of aluminum and glass alone leads to a direct saving of 70.3 GWh of energy by eliminating raw material extraction and processing. Further, the economic value of the recovered material at USD 11.74 billion is found to have the potential to generate additional solar capacity worth 19 GW. However, making the end-of-life treatment of PV waste financially feasible would require government subsidization. A minimum amount that would equate the costs to the benefits is USD 690/MW. The study, therefore, intends to inform potential stakeholders about the environmental burden as well as the economic potential of the impending PV waste and concludes with important policy prescriptions for enabling a sustainable energy transition through the circular economy approach.
... As a transcend and futuristic criterion, it can be imposed recyclability on the encapsulation material which is the circular economic indicator for production companies or PV module producers. This criterion is in line with the carbon-neutral scenarios and meeting climate change initiatives [53,54]. ...
Conference Paper
The power loss in photovoltaic (PV) modules due to degradations in the encapsulant layers accounts for more than 10% of the power loss within the module. Choosing a suitable material for the encapsulant layer has a significant impact on the price and performance of the PV module. The performance analysis of PV modules in the near- and long-term are usually referred to as reliability and durability in the literature. While the reliability issue to a large extent and acceptable limits is covered by the different international standard tests, the main challenges are related to the durability of the PV modules in the different field installations. Durability issues couldn’t be solved without putting forward a general rule of thumb for choosing a suitable encapsulation material. Then, this paper proposes a general multi-criteria analysis method for doing that. After that, this analysis is applied to compare three conventional encapsulation materials including EVA, PVB, and TPO. Finally, this study proposes a suitable candidate with long-lasting durability and providing better performance for the PV module encapsulation based-on this multi-criteria analysis.
... This would not only simplify the design process, but it would also standardize the disassembly and recycling procedure, thereby reducing the need for multiple recycling facilities employing different technologies to be built. Currently, the lack of standardization across the industry makes it difficult for recycling plants to manage different panel types [37]. Therefore, a circular design approach that is focused on EoL could become an industry standard requirement, along with a product stewardship scheme where PV panel manufacturers take ownership of the panels throughout their lifetime. ...
Article
This study presents a life cycle assessment (LCA) of end-of-life (EoL) photovoltaic (PV) systems in Australia. Three different EoL scenarios are considered for 1 kWh of electricity generation across a 30-year PV system lifespan: (i) disposal to landfill, (ii) recycling by laminated glass recycling facility (LGRF), and (iii) recycling by full recovery of EoL photovoltaics (FRELP). It is found that recycling technologies reduce the overall impact score of the cradle-to-grave PV systems from 0.00706 to 0.00657 (for LGRF) and 0.00523 (for FRELP), as measured using the LCA ReCiPe endpoint single score. The CO2 emissions to air decrease slightly from 0.059 kg CO2 per kWh (landfill) to 0.054 kg CO2 per kWh (for LGRF) and 0.046 kg CO2 per kWh (for FRELP). Increasing the PV system lifespan from 30 years to 50 and 100 years (a hypothetical scenario) improves the ReCiPe endpoint single-score impact from 0.00706 to 0.00424 and 0.00212, respectively, with corresponding CO2 emissions reductions from 0.059 kg CO2 per kWh to 0.035 and 0.018 kg CO2 per kWh, respectively. These results show that employing recycling slightly reduces the environmental impact of the EoL PV systems. It is, however, noted that recycling scenarios do not consider the recycling plant construction step due to a lack of data on these emerging PV panel recycling plants. Accounting for the latter will increase the environmental impact of the recycling scenarios, possibly defeating the purpose of recycling. Increasing the lifespan of the PV systems increases the longevity of the use of panel materials and is therefore favorable towards reducing environmental impacts. Our findings strongly suggest that PV recycling steps and technologies be carefully considered before implementation. More significantly, it is imperative to consider the circular design step up front, where PV systems are designed via circular economy principles such as utility and longevity and are rolled out through circular business models.
... Moreover, if PV panels' end of life (EoL) is managed properly, rare materials such as ruthenium, gallium, indium, and tellurium can be utilized. Thus, there is a critical need to address this issue and connect the impact associated with PV systems at the end of their life cycle [217,218]. Circular economy approach emphasizes on product, component, material reuse, remanufacturing, energy utilization through product value chain and specifically cradle to cradle life cycle [219,220]. ...
Article
Full-text available
With the fast growth of the global economy in terms of both supply and demand, social, economic, and environmental impacts become critically dangerous. This red alert has pushed the decision-makers to formulate objectives, guiding economic policies toward sustainable goals. The process is known as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). That said, the energy sector is among the most contributing domains to the current crisis. Solar energy is among the most efficient solutions proposed to reduce the economic and environmental footprints of energy. In this frame, the current paper aims to localize solar energy within SDGs and analyze the contribution of the solar energy towards the achievement of the SDGs. Moreover, the current work highlights the contributions of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (MBR) Solar Park in the United Arab Emirates to achieving the SDGs standpoint. Indeed, the MBR Solar Park concept offers valuable insights of environmental impacts of deploying clean and affordable energy source than conventional fossil fuel power plants that are still heavily used in the region. The MBR Solar Park operation has already mitigated 6.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent and this number will likely rise when all phases are installed and operated. Moreover, it has been shown that MBR Solar Park verify several SDGs such SDG 8: decent work and economic growth, SDG 9: industry, innovation and infrastructure, SDG 11: sustainable cities and communities, and SDG 15: life on land.
... The circular economy attempts to close the supply chain loop by reducing the need for virgin materials via the reuse or recycling of existing materials [9]. One of the benefits of a circular economy is to reduce the extraction of virgin materials and extend the lifecycle of resources through reduction, reuse, and recycling [10]. ...
Article
Full-text available
In the circular economy, a closed-loop supply chain is essential to guarantee the logistics of raw materials to the correct destination of the end-of-life (EOL) product. This is magnified by hazardous products that can contaminate the environment, such as lead, as well as the people involved in their production processes. Through an exploratory study of multiple cases, we analyzed the Brazilian lead-based vehicle battery chain by investigating two main manufacturers, two recycling companies, and eight distributors/retailers. The aim of the study was to analyze the relationships between the actors in the lead acid battery chain and identify the mechanisms that induce recycling programs, and to propose an explanatory framework. The results indicate that although the sustainability strategies of OEMs are implemented by regulatory mechanisms, the impacts of these strategies cascade among all agents in the supply chain, promoting a convergence between actions and relationships between actors from the perspective of the triple bottom line, highlighting variables for each dimension (economic, social, and environmental). The study contributes to the consolidation of the triple bottom line concepts in the lead acid battery production chain and presents managerial implications for sustainability management.
... Another study by Celik et al. (2020) claims that the transportation associated CO 2 emissions contribute 47%, 28%, and 40% of the overall EoL impacts for crystalline-Si, CdTe, and CIGS PV wastes, respectively. Further, the various studies in the past proposed productive paradigms (Sica et al., 2018;Salim et al., 2019b) or frameworks (Lisperguer et al., 2020) for a 'closed loop' circular economy for PV waste management (Gigli et al., 2019). ...
Article
In last two decades, solar photovoltaic industry has shown tremendous growth among all renewable energy sectors, as a result, the concern of their end-of-life waste management increased. This study reviews the current state -of- art on end-of-life photovoltaics in terms of the materials used during manufacturing, their fate in environment, short-term & long-term leaching behaviour, applicability of current standard waste characterisation methods, possible human & ecological risk, manufacturers & consumers perspective towards management and recycling. A comprehensive comparative analysis of various findings from recent studies regarding the subject of end-of-life photovoltaic waste was done. Special emphasis was given on understanding the material release from first and second generation photovoltaics as per various theoretical and experimental studies to identify knowledge gaps. The findings from review shows that metals, such lead, copper, iron and aluminium have the potential to exceed hazardous waste limits, though a majority of them do not exceed the standard waste methods limit. Among the various modules, the highest material release was observed from crystalline-silicon modules. Further, if solar modules are disposed in landfills, the increase in leachate pollution index is mainly due to the leached heavy metals such as lead and chromium as the effect due to other parameters is negligible. At present, solar photovoltaics are generally grouped with electronic waste and is not classified under any waste category (hazardous or non-hazardous) except the United States of America and Europe. Amendments in existing waste characterization tests considering the complexity of photovoltaic waste and disposal mode should be considered. Further, as per various studies, progressing research is needed to establish standardized methods for recycling of photovoltaics. Present study gives a summary and future outlook on end-of-life solar photovoltaics with recommending the future directions for researchers and public policymakers.
... As the lifespan of most solar panels ranges between 20-30 years, the fast growth of this sector in the last decade means that in the 2030's, massive quantities of c-Si solar panels will reach their end-of-life (EOL). Researchers worldwide have been addressing this imminent challenge of recycling these devices [17][18][19][20][21][22], which seems fundamental to recovering scarce minerals and enabling the multi-terawatt deployment of c-Si. At the same time, it could reduce energy demand, carbon emissions, and raw material extraction, contributing to the sustainability of this industry in the long term. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
The cover glass in a silicon solar panel accounts for about 2/3 of the device's weight and, at the end of life, these panels are expected to be recycled to reduce the industry's environmental impact. The recycling methods often require the panel to be smashed, which splint the cover glass in low-value fragments. Here we demonstrated that the cover glass could be recovered unbroken through a mechanical process. Due to its chemical and mechanical strength, this glass would be ready to be reused without the need to melt it again, bringing by this way important savings of its energy content and carbon emission related to its production. The material would be ready to be used as cover glass in another solar panel or, still, as architecture material or another application. Besides that, we have utilized Fourier-transform infrared, Raman, and energy-dispersive spectroscopies to confirm the composition of the remaining components, as well as to identify aging. We confirmed that our study-case panel has a composition similar to most Silicon solar panels in the market, and the results indicated that it would be feasible to recover the glass in most of these devices and by this way reduce the carbon emissions of the photovoltaic industry by more than 2 million tonnes every year.
... 67 The fabrication of crystalline silicon panels requires various materials such as silicon, glass, polymers, silver, copper, boron, phosphorous, tin, tin oxide, lead. 68 Even though there may not be any environmental concern during the silicon PV module operation, the pH dependent leaching of heavy metals such as Al, Cu, Ni, and Pb from module pieces is a significant concern. Therefore, it is critical to recycle the solar panels safely to avoid any problems related to drinking water, aquatic life, soil, agriculture, etc. ...
Chapter
The limited availability of fossil fuel sources coupled with the health and environmental risks associated with their use lead to the increased focus on renewable energy resources such as solar photovoltaics (PV) as a potential energy source for the future. Currently, significant research is focused on improving the efficiency (i.e., reducing the cost per watt power) and long-term reliability of solar cells to make PV cells competent with fossil fuels. On the other hand, little attention is given to understanding and assessing long-term environmental impacts associated with the contaminants produced during the manufacturing and application of solar cells. Hence, it is imperative to review and evaluate the critical environmental issues relevant to solar PV, especially in emerging PV technologies. This chapter will introduce different PV technologies, including silicon PV, thin-film PV, and perovskite solar cells, and outline the materials and the processes used in PV technologies. A review of the health and environmental impact of Sn- and Pb- based PV technologies and the need for alternative technologies such as Sn- and Pb-free perovskite PV will be presented. The potential environmental, energy, and health impacts and a review of possible mitigation strategies related to perovskite solar cells-induced hazards are also presented.
... Thankfully, researchers, manufacturers, and installers around the world are working on innovative ways to make renewables cleaner 86,[248][249][250][251] . ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The global energy system is undergoing the largest and fastest transformation since the Industrial Revolution. Breakthroughs in renewable production and storage have made solar and wind the cheapest and cleanest energy ever available. Consequently, solar, wind, and batteries now make up more than 90% of all new energy production built each year. Because the energy scene is changing so rapidly, there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation (just YouTube “renewables” and you’ll see what we mean). Even those of us in the industry can get out of date in a matter of months. As a group of researchers, students, and community members, we prepared this overview of the renewable revolution based on more than 300 peer-reviewed studies, technical reports, and public articles. We were asked by local and state lawmakers to prepare this report, but we received no funding to do this research.
... As the lifespan of most solar panels ranges between 20-30 years, the fast growth of this sector in the last decade means that in the 2030's, massive quantities of c-Si solar panels will reach their end-of-life (EOL). Researchers worldwide have been addressing this imminent challenge of recycling these devices [17][18][19][20][21][22], which seems fundamental to recovering scarce minerals and enabling the multi-terawatt deployment of c-Si. At the same time, it could reduce energy demand, carbon emissions, and raw material extraction, contributing to the sustainability of this industry in the long term. ...
Article
The cover glass in a silicon solar panel accounts for about 2/3 of the device’s weight. Recycling these devices at their end-of-life is fundamental to reducing the industry’s environmental impact. Here we investigate the recovery of these glass sheets by a heat-assisted mechanical process. A panel was delaminated, and we have utilized Fourier-transform infrared, Raman, and energy-dispersive spectroscopies to confirm the composition of the remaining components and identify aging signals. The results demonstrate that the panel’s design was similar to most Silicon solar panels in the market, and we concluded that it would be feasible to recover the glass in most of these devices. Due to its chemical and mechanical strength, this glass would be ready to be reused without the need to melt it again, bringing substantial savings in its energy content and carbon emission related to its production. The glass sheet would be ready to be used as cover glass in another solar panel or architecture material. Our estimates showed that this could be a pathway to reducing the photovoltaic industry’s carbon emissions by more than 2 million tonnes per year.
... With the clear focus of recycling in the PV CE literature, there are also many articles reviewing the state of published recycling research (Chowdhury et al. 2020;Heath et al. 2020;Sica et al. 2018). Instead of attempting to repeat the depth of attention those articles provide to the topic, we focus on just three main challenges we observed in the current status of PV recycling, in order to give equal attention to the smaller body of literature on non-recycling CE strategies. ...
Article
Full-text available
A review discusses key insights, gaps, and opportunities for research and implementation of a circular economy for two of the leading technologies that enable the transition to a renewable energy economy, solar PV and lithium-ion batteries (LIB); procedures to critically analyze over 3000 publications on the circular economy of solar PV and LIBs, categorizing those that pass a series of objective screens in ways that can illuminate the current state of the art; existing impediments to a circular economy; and future technological and analytical research.
... Another commercial model, with potential to greatly reduce the amount of PV industry waste is the elongated ownership model. The elongated residential ownership model assumes a continuation of the useful lifetime of a residential PV system, whereby the owner would retain the system beyond the widely accepted 25 year system lifetime [17][18][19]. The main objective of this study is to evaluate the feasibility of extending the lifetime of solar PV systems using a synthesised cascading tiered commercial ownership model and an elongated residential ownership model with a view towards reduction of industry EOL waste. ...
Article
Since 2010, solar Photovoltaic (PV) has been the single fastest growing power generation technology worldwide. However, given that the useful lifetime of a PV installation currently stands at 25 years and that current industry End-of-Life (EOL) management techniques, focus primarily on recycling and disposal, it has been estimated that by 2050, there will exist 78 million tonnes of hazardous solar PV waste. One potential solution that could aid in mitigating this impending environmental crisis, is determining whether or not the lifetime of commercial and residential solar PV installations can be elongated from the industry standard of 25 years to 50 years. Two novel solar PV ownership models, “The Cascading Tiered Commercial Ownership model” (CTCO) and “The Elongated Residential Ownership model” (ERO) have been created by projecting the technical outputs and economic Net Present Values (NPV) of a 60 kwp commercial and 4.8 kWp residential installation operated over a 50 as opposed to 25 year period. As expected, the Business as Usual (BAU) model which required that the commercial residential installations be decommissioned and replaced at 25 years, produced more energy over a 50 year period than both lifetime elongation models. However, the cascading tiered ownership model and the elongated residential ownership model had an NPV that was higher than the BAU model. Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) analysis identified that a rate of more than €0.25 per kWh would be required for the BAU model to be favoured, while the rate of module degradation favoured the elongated ownership model for all rates under 2% per year. Alterations to the FIT at 25 years assuming preference for environmentally sustainable business models, led to a greater disparity in results in favour of the novel ownership models. Irradiation levels only favoured the BAU ownership model when in excess of 1750 kWh/m2. Altogether, the projected technical output of both hypothesised ownership models suggests that elongation of PV system lifetime is economically advantageous and should be considered as a viable alternative to other models in both commercial and residential market segments.
... The recycling and processing of the electronics used in solar panels involve toxic fumes that are detrimental to human health [78]. The success of end-of-life treatment relies on a proper disposal infrastructure, instead of relying on disposing of the panels in landfills [88]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background Social life-cycle assessment (S-LCA) provides a framework to evaluate the social impacts of decisions made during the design phases of a product. Rooftop solar panels are considered an environmentally friendly renewable energy technology due to their ability to generate electricity without producing greenhouse gases while generating electricity. This study presents the application of a challenge-derived S-LCA framework to assess the social impacts of rooftop solar panels in the southeast region of the United States (U.S.) during the use and end-of-life phases. Methods The challenge-derived S-LCA framework was developed based on a set of challenges to performing social assessments. The challenges were identified through a systematic mapping process and verified using expert feedback. Additional feedback is gathered through users from mechanical engineering capstone design students. The case study application shown in this paper aims to identify the potential social impacts at a pre-implementation stage of the rooftop solar panel in residential applications. The framework follows the ISO 14040 LCA structure, and the analysis was performed based on impact indicators (Type-I framework) and performance reference points (PRP). Results The framework implements existing social impact assessment methodologies, and guides each of the assessment stages based on the type of analysis performed. The results highlight the workers as the stakeholder group with the highest social impacts. The results also highlight the need for regulation to make rooftop solar panels accessible to low-income community members. Conclusions An S-LCA framework to assess the social impacts of product systems and technologies is implemented to evaluate the potential social impacts of residential rooftop solar panels. The framework presented applies to product systems and technologies at a pre- or post-implementation state, and it aims to guide novice and expert users alike. Nonetheless, further research is still needed to improve the methodology presented, and additional case studies should be performed to test the applicability of the framework across a broad set of fields.
Article
Inorganic-based thin-film photovoltaics (TFPV) represents an important component of the growing low-carbon energy market and plays a vital role in the drive toward lower cost and increased penetration of solar energy. Yet, commercialized thin-film absorber technologies suffer from some non-ideal characteristics, such as toxic or non-abundant element use (e.g., CdTe and Cu(In,Ga)(S,Se)2, which bring into question their suitability for terawatt deployment. Numerous promising chalcogenide, halide, pnictide and oxide semiconductors are being pursued to bridge these concerns for TFPV and several promising paths have emerged, both as prospective replacements for the entrenched technologies, and to serve as partner (i.e., higher bandgap) absorbers for tandem junction devices-e.g., to be used with a lower bandgap Si bottom cell. The current perspective will primarily focus on emerging chalcogenide-based technologies and provide both an overview of absorber candidates that have been of recent interest and a deeper dive into an exemplary Cu2BaSnS4-related family. Overall, considering the combined needs of high-performance, low-cost, and operational stability, as well as the experiences gained from existing commercialized thin-film absorber technologies, chalcogenide-based semiconductors represent a promising direction for future PV development and also serve to highlight common themes and needs among the broader TFPV materials family.
Article
Solar Photovoltaic Panels (solar PVPs) have been widely used as an alternative to fossil fuels. However, in order for solar PVPs to be an environmentally friendly alternative, planning for their end of life cycle (EoL) is also required. This work addresses the suitability of a safe disposal of waste from EoL solar PVPs of 1st and 2nd generation solar PVPs by stabilization in cement mortars. The panels 1st generation EoL solar PVPs were initially mechanically and thermally pretreated (550 °C for 30 min), in order to remove the polymer sheets. A mixture of glass, silicon, electrodes, and ash was obtained and separated in a trommel. Experiments were carried out with three types of materials: separated semiconductor (silicon), glass and mixed waste. The mixed waste consisted of glass, silicon and ash as retrieved following manual removal of only the electrodes from the material generated by the pretreatment. 2nd generation EoL solar PVPs were shredded to dust and were tested without further treatment. A series of mortar samples containing 1–20% w/w of the aforementioned samples as aggregate substitute were prepared according to (CEN, EN 196-1, 2016) and their flexural and compressive strength was measured at ages of 2, 7 and 28 days. After 28d of curing, the samples were subjected to Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) tests and leached metals were measured by ICP-OES. In both cases the TCLP tests results indicated that stabilization was successful since no significant or harmful metal amount was detected and consequently, safe disposal of the stabilized waste can be secured.
Article
Solar energy can sustain the global energy demand if utilized effectively through practical solar systems. Solar photovoltaic (PV) installations are increasing fast globally, and the nexus is the end-of-life (EOL) management of solar panels and other components. This perspective discusses integrating solar collectors into PV panels. Simultaneous electricity and heat production using PV help achieve our energy needs. The PV cooling improves their electrical productivity and life. Integrating solar air/water heating systems into solar PV finds space-heating, drying, hot water, process heating, and solar desalination applications. Thus, integrating thermal units with new PV panels during manufacturing, retrofitting the deployed panels, and converting EOL panels can undoubtedly minimize carbon footprints. Such sustainable PV measures can help all solar community stakeholders and lead to effective resource utilization and a circular economy.
Article
Since solar panels and wind turbines have limited lifespans, solar photovoltaic energy supply chain (SPvESC) and wind energy supply chain (WESC) in Turkey needs a paradigm shift to improve the efficiency and recyclability of solar panel and wind turbine components. The circular economy (CE) is a viable strategy for reducing the negative effects of linear supply chains in the SPvESC and WESC. However, despite the several drivers of implementing CE in the SPvESC and WESC, there are also barriers to CE initiatives. It is argued that further studies are needed to explore the drivers and challenges for CE adoption in different industries of developing and developed countries. Hence, the goal of this research is to explore the driving and restraining forces for CE adoption in Turkey’s SPvESC and WESC through a decision framework that includes Neutrosphopic DELPHI-based Force Field Analysis, Neutrosphopic-DEMATEL, and Nominal Group Technique. The findings of this research suggested that because the total score of restraining forces is higher than that of driving forces in force field analysis, it is critical to investigate the relationships among the restraining forces. Our findings also suggested that nonexistence of effective incentives and regulations proved to be the most prominent restraining force.
Chapter
Photovoltaic (PV) output is calculated in efficiency, which quantifies incident solar irradiation transformed into electricity on a PV module surface. Particularly, the performance is influenced by local environment, such as solar irradiance, temperature, light incident angle, soiling, etc., and own factors, such as solar cell types and efficiency and module layout design, configuration and size. However, because of the various types of stress developed during field operation, the performance of a PV module gradually deteriorates. To increase their commercial viability, it is critical to identify the causes of degradation and failure modes, and find appropriate PV technologies for each site. In this chapter, we discuss the reliability and various failure modes that have been recorded for various PV technologies over the last few years through field and laboratory test investigations.
Chapter
This chapter reviews the current, emerging, and future building-integrated photovoltaic and building-integrated photovoltaics and thermal (BIPVT) technologies. Different thermal management methods in BIPVT systems are discussed including air, water, phase change materials, reflective coatings, meta-surface materials, and transparent or translucent photovoltaic cells. Integrating BIPVT with the sensing and control system of buildings, a smart building exhibits high energy efficiency and active response to the actual use. Some other innovative technologies are employed, such as a passive dual-axis solar tracker, sun-powered smart window blinds, and a wireless self-powered sensing and control system to manage them. To reach higher sustainability, circular manufacturing of BIPVT system is discussed with solar panel recycling, alternative lamination method, new BIPVT design for modular construction, and phase change materials. In the end, two case studies are presented: one on a sunflower active solar tracking system in Austin, TX, and the other one on the use of sandwich panels in building energy independent houses.
Thesis
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From a sustainable product design perspective, we propose a new multi-criteria decision support approach for the choice of an optimal scenario that aims to minimize environmental, social, and economic impacts. The model combines the system approach and the product approach from a life cycle perspective. It is structured around three significant levels, namely; the strategic, tactical and operational levels applied in the design of new products or services. Our contribution is distinguished by treating two issues. The first concerns the proposal of a mechanism that allows the generation of sustainable design scenarios that are consistent with organizations’ context.This latter is characterized by taking into account internal and external issues and stakeholders requirements. These scenarios are not limited to traditional technological or component choice options. In fact, they are considered value chain-oriented sustainable design strategies. To this end, we use strategic analysis tools such as SWOT, PESTEL, and 7S techniques to identify a multitude of criteria. These criteria form tactics to determine design alternatives by life cycle phase. Design alternatives are then combined to generate design scenarios that are not generic, but meaningful in the context of organizations. The second issue deals with the complexity of life cycle analysis methods and the uncertainty of data and experts’ judgments in order to select an optimal scenario satisfying numerous and often dependent criteria. To this end, we propose to implement a decision support system based on the modelling of environmental, social, and economic assessment for each scenario by life cycle phase. Hence, we calculate the impact indicators related to each assessment. The decision support system is based on control and influence criteria set by organizations as well as the Choquet integral for reducing the number of scenarios. The ANP (Analytic Network Process) method is then deployed to select the optimal design scenario. The validation of the model is tested on a real case study for a company designing, manufacturing, and distributing batteries for motorcycles. The application of the model has effectively generated significant strategic scenarios for the company. The adopted tactical variables are summarized in technology options (AGM, Gel), logistics options (Land transport/Sea transport), manufacturing site options (Tunisia/Tanzania) and distribution options (Local/Exports) with logistics sub-options.On the basis of simulations and impact calculations, we have established environmental, social and economic assessments of each scenario by highlighting the influence of options by scenario nd by phase of the life cycle. Among the most impacting scenarios, we have demonstrated that the choice of AGM technology, manufacturing in Tanzania and maritime logistics generate the most environmental impacts (affecting ecosystem quality and degrading human health) ,the most important social aspects (labor rights, community and governance) and significant costs. The most advantageous scenarios are those using Gel technology, manufacturing at theTunisian site and land transport. The resulting aspects have less impacts. However, the fourteen simulations showed that, although some scenarios are advantageous, they have different impacts per life cycle phase. Thus, the implementation of the fuzzy ANP and the Choquet integral has resolved interactions and dependencies between attributes and between phases of the product’s life cycle. The implementation of this method led to the choice of the optimal scenario while addressing uncertainties of experts’ judgments. The results obtained from this case study confirmed the relevance of the model to the company’s expectations and demonstrated its applicability and ability to minimize environmental, social and economic impacts since early critical design phase.
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The present study highlighted the issue of end-of-life photovoltaic waste before government, policy makers, waste regulators and fills the gaps between various stakeholders by exploring their perceptions towards end-of-life solar waste management. Respondents’ waste handling practices, willingness to pay towards recycling, and their mindset towards problematic situation of upcoming photovoltaic waste were investigated via a survey-based study. Findings indicated that consumers are less concerned about photovoltaic waste as 60% of them are planning to sell their used panels to rag-pickers, however, willing to pay a part of recycling/handling cost, if required. Majority of respondents (> 80%) never considered fate of end-of-life photovoltaics, though willing to pay 15% of handling costs. In terms of responsibility for recycling, 60% consumers think that it is government’s responsibility, whereas 51% manufacturers think that it is a common responsibility of government, consumer, seller/manufacturer. In respect to ranking of drivers, barriers and enablers towards solar waste management, consumers scored factors more moderately than manufacturers, highlighting the less apprehension and thoughtfulness concerning the issue. The most critical barrier identified was high recycling cost, and can possibly be overcome by implementation of research & development on feasible and economically sound recycling processes. Statistical analysis shows that the respondent category and their respective regions significantly affect the ranking of factors and point-of-view towards various aspects. The findings clearly indicate that self-take-back collection and recycling facilities, material recovery and recycling incentives are the main factors affecting end-of-life panels handling. As an input to policy makers, it is necessary to understand the findings presented in present study on consumers and manufacturers’ mindsets regarding photovoltaic waste issue and their willingness to participate in recycling activities. Graphical abstract
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Considerable efforts are being made to gradually introduce sustainable energy sources to meet future energy needs. Energy plays an essential role in the circular economy because circular activities, such as materials processing, require energy and heat. The objective was to research in the literature if the generation and use of photovoltaic solar energy can contribute to the circular economy precepts. Searches were carried out in the ScienceDirect database using the words "solar and energy and circular economy", "photovoltaic and energy and circular economy" and 25 papers were found. The papers were classified under the themes "generation and use of photovoltaic solar energy"; "recovery of material from photovoltaic energy generation equipment" and "comparison with the generation of other forms of energy". Fifteen articles were found on "generation and use of photovoltaic solar energy", eight articles on "material recovery from photovoltaic energy generation equipment" and two articles on "comparison with the generation of other forms of energy". It was found in the research that photovoltaic solar energy, whether in the generation of energy considered a clean and renewable source, use or through its waste either from the production of equipment or after its useful life, is a technology that can contribute to the circular economy.
Chapter
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The global exponential increase in annual photovoltaic installations and the resulting levels of photovoltaic waste is a growing concern. It was verified in recent literature how the production, management and recovery of residues from photovoltaic energy generation systems is being treated and the proposals for solutions to these problems. In the ScienceDirect database, 30 articles were found on the subject for the period 2012-2020. The evaluated articles were classified into four categories: environmental impacts, circular economy, recycling and/or recovery of inputs and projection of the amount of waste in countries. In the “environmental impacts” theme, five articles showed the environmental impact assessment of the end-of life phase of photovoltaic solar panels and the Circular Economy theme presented three researches. As for the projection of photovoltaic waste, five surveys showed this projection in the United States of America, in Australia; in Spain; in Mexico and Italy. Recycling and/or recovery of inputs was the topic that presented the most research, with seventeen articles, 14 on processes for removal/recovery of inputs and three literature reviews. The articles showed both the concern with the environmental impacts that the use of technology will bring in the future and the suggestions for making this technology a source of raw materials, whether within a circular economy or suggesting processes for extracting inputs after the end of the useful life of the equipment.
Chapter
Circular economy (CE) has recently become an innovative and popular scientific topic in the fields of engineering/natural-based and management/economic-based studies. It is known that two components constitute the concept of CE, i.e., a technical (circular) and an economic component (economy). These components are mainly studied by scholars on a separate basis either through engineering and natural-based sciences with various techniques and technologies or through management/economic-based sciences by utilizing managerial and economic techniques, methods, and tools. This chapter aims to conduct a short review of existing literature on CE by utilizing the classical threefold context (micro-, meso-, and macro-level) and through the engineering/nature-based science and the management/economic-based science. Furthermore, this book chapter will identify different and common research areas of engineering and management sciences in order to create a new framework to examine topics of CE.
Chapter
The widespread availability of solar cells has now become questionable due to huge expansion in the production and application of renewable energies. Accordingly, during the next centuries, the recycling of solar panels will become a major global concern. It is extremely important to sensitively examine the reuse and recycling processes of solar photovoltaic panels. Recent research in solar photovoltaic panels focuses on how manufacturing flexibility can be enhanced, but dismounting and recovery of end‐of‐life panels, for example, in the absence of advanced solar photovoltaic recycling plants, was seldom taken into consideration. End‐of‐life reprocessing solar panels could save environmental resources efficiently and reduce the costs of production. Currently, research on photovoltaic panel recovery has several difficulties in the engineering side and the scientists need to invest in the infrastructure which is commercially viable and environmental friendly. Case study at the end‐of‐life on solar panels is justinitiated in several developed nations and moral obligation in production need to be further improved and expanded. The current chapter focused on the existing state of reprocessing of solar panel wastes, reuse technologies, ecological conservation, waste generation, guidelines for recycling, and financial consequences.
Article
Business models have the potential to deliver environmental sustainability in companies through innovative approaches to creating and delivering value. Business model innovation has been shown as a means to integrate circular economy principles into companies' operations. Several frameworks have been created to guide the transition from traditional to circular business models. However, there is a need for a framework that quantitatively evaluates business models to inform the transition based on their relative environmental performance in creating and delivering value. This study presents a new framework for evaluating the Environmental performance of Business Models (EBuM). The EBuM framework consists of sequential steps of life cycle assessment, participatory decision-making, and business model innovation. It enables organisations to integrate environmental considerations in their decisions and operations. The framework was applied to solar energy companies in Kenya. Life cycle assessments of the photovoltaic systems were conducted through the lens of business models of participating companies to provide insights into the hotspots of environmental impacts. Each company participated in two workshops to evaluate the potential of business model innovation in mitigating the environmental impacts of their activities. Findings showed that the environmental impacts of incumbent business models were generally higher than their circular economy-oriented substitutes. Business model innovation could, for example, lower the climate change potential by 12 %–55 % and the metal depletion potential by 40 %–70 %. While the framework has been applied to solar energy companies, it can be applied to other business models in different sectors.
Article
In this paper, we study the link between renewable technology adoption and the resulting waste, drawing parallels from our experience with the WEEE Directive to suggest policy recommendations and highlight future research directions. Our ideas are driven by the observation that the sharp reduction in solar panel installation costs along with improvements in their energy conversion efficiency has driven a rapid growth in the adoption of this technology. We note a potential caveat to such rapid growth in adoption: existing installations being retired earlier than their projected 30-year lifetime. In this context, we build a model of the technology adoption and replacement behaviour of solar panel end-users. We conduct a numerical analysis to calculate the solar panel replacement incentives of US residential households, and project the resulting waste from residential panels. We find that annual new waste introduced into the market can exceed the volume of new installations within the next decade, which can more than double the levelized cost of energy for solar generation and jeopardise the cost competitiveness of this technology in the foreseeable future. These observations reflect the importance of a circular economy outlook in renewable energy system design and call for further research in this area.
Technical Report
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Technical potential of materials recovered from end-of-life solar PV panels could exceed $15 billion by 2050 The global solar photovoltaic (PV) boom currently underway will represent a significant untapped business opportunity as decommissioned solar panels enter the waste stream in the years ahead, according to a report released today by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Energy Agency’s Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme (IEA-PVPS). The report, End-of-Life Management: Solar Photovoltaic Panels, is the first-ever projection of PV panel waste volumes to 2050 and highlights that recycling or repurposing solar PV panels at the end of their roughly 30-year lifetime can unlock a large stock of raw materials and other valuable components. It estimates that PV panel waste, comprised mostly of glass, could total 78 million tonnes globally by 2050. If fully injected back into the economy, the value of the recovered material could exceed USD 15 billion by 2050. This potential material influx could produce 2 billion new panels or be sold into global commodity markets, thus increasing the security of future PV supply or other raw material-dependent products. The report suggests that addressing growing solar PV waste, and spurring the establishment of an industry to handle it, would require: the adoption of effective, PV-specific waste regulation; the expansion of existing waste management infrastructure to include end-of-life treatment of PV panels, and; the promotion of ongoing innovation in panel waste management. In most countries, PV panels fall under the classification of “general waste” but the European Union (EU) was the first to adopt PV-specific waste regulations, which include PV-specific collection, recovery, and recycling targets. EU’s directive requires all panel producers that supply PV panels to the EU market (wherever they may be based) to finance the costs of collecting and recycling end-of-life PV panels put on the market in Europe. End-of-Life Management: Solar Photovoltaic Panels, is the second of several solar-focused publications IRENA is releasing this summer. Last week, IRENA released The Power to Change, which predicts average costs for electricity generated by solar and wind technologies could decrease by between 26 and 59 per cent by 2025. Later this week, IRENA will release Letting in the Light: How Solar Photovoltaics Will Revolutionize the Electricity System – which provides a comprehensive overview of solar PV across the globe and its prospects for the future.
Article
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The purpose of this work is to carry out a review of the main technical-economic and environmental implications associated with the production of photovoltaic (PV) energy, one of the renewable sources for the production of electricity which currently presents the highest rate of growth worldwide-particularly in Europe and in Italy. The review provides a detailed exploration of the most important initiatives taken at the national level for the end-of-life management of the modules, and highlights issues associated with the disposal and/or recycling of obsolete photovoltaic panels in terms of techno-economic and socio-environmental sustainability. The paper highlights the main critical elements and potential opportunities deriving from the technological, managerial, and organizational options available to enhance recovery and recycling rates of PV panels in Italy. Results point out the importance of a circular economy perspective, through the involvement and awareness of the actors in the process, in order to render an even greener photovoltaic energy life cycle.
Article
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Lifecycle impacts of photovoltaic (PV) plants have been largely explored in several studies. However, the end-of-life phase has been generally excluded or neglected from these analyses, mainly because of the low amount of panels that reached the disposal yet and the lack of data about their end of life. It is expected that the disposal of PV panels will become a relevant environmental issue in the next decades. This article illustrates and analyses an innovative process for the recycling of silicon PV panel. The process is based on a sequence of physical (mechanical and thermal) treatments followed by acid leaching and electrolysis. The Life Cycle Assessment methodology has been applied to account for the environmental impacts of the process. Environmental benefits (i.e. credits) due to the potential productions of secondary raw materials have been intentionally excluded, as the focus is on the recycling process. The article provides transparent and disaggregated information on the end-of-life stage of silicon PV panel, which could be useful for other LCA practitioners for future assessment of PV technologies. The study highlights that the impacts are concentrated on the incineration of the panel׳s encapsulation layers, followed by the treatments to recover silicon metal, silver, copper, aluminium. For example around 20% of the global warming potential impact is due to the incineration of the sandwich layer and 30% to the post-incineration treatments. Transport is also relevant for several impact categories, ranging from a minimum of about 10% (for the freshwater eutrophication) up to 80% (for the Abiotic Depletion Potential – minerals).
Conference Paper
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Environmental performances of PV systems are likely to evolve in the future due to significant technological improvements of the systems, to less energy intensive manufacturing processes as well as a shift towards less carbon-intensive energies for electricity mix. In spite of the complexity to estimate these changes with accuracy, projections are available based on scenarios representing different levels of improvements. Based on these scenarios, prospective environmental impacts and electricity production of large scale PV systems are assessed. This paper focuses on GHG performance of large scale photovoltaic ground mounted systems based on the Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) technology. We compare the current (2011-2013) and prospective (at 2050 time horizon) GHG performance of such PV systems under different scenarios accounting for technological improvements, future electricity mixes, and module manufacturing origin. A significant decrease in GHG performance is to be found for the prospective scenarios compared to the current situation ranging from 50 up to 80% depending on the scenarios. Prospective technological improvement seems to induce more uncertainties than prospective electricity mixes involved in manufacturing the modules.
Article
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Grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) power is currently one of the fastest growing power-generation technologies in the world. While PV technologies provide the environmental benefit of zero emissions during use, the use of heavy metals in thin-film PV cells raises important health and environmental concerns regarding the end-of-life disposal of PV panels. To date, there is no published quantitative assessment of the potential human health risk due to cadmium leaching from cadmium telluride (CdTe) PV panels disposed in a landfill. Thus, we used a screening-level risk assessment tool to estimate possible human health risk associated with disposal of CdTe panels into landfills. In addition, we conducted a literature review of potential cadmium release from the recycling process in order to contrast the potential health risks from PV panel disposal in landfills to those from PV panel recycling. Based on the results of our literature review, a meaningful risk comparison cannot be performed at this time. Based on the human health risk estimates generated for PV panel disposal, our assessment indicated that landfill disposal of CdTe panels does not pose a human health hazard at current production volumes, although our results pointed to the importance of CdTe PV panel end-of-life management.
Article
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In May 2010 the United States National Science Foundation sponsored a two-day workshop to review the state-of-the-art and research challenges in photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing. This article summarizes the major conclusions and outcomes from this workshop, which was focused on identifying the science that needs to be done to help accelerate PV manufacturing. A significant portion of the article focuses on assessing the current status of and future opportunities in the major PV manufacturing technologies. These are solar cells based on crystalline silicon (c-Si), thin films of cadmium telluride (CdTe), thin films of copper indium gallium diselenide, and thin films of hydrogenated amorphous and nanocrystalline silicon. Current trends indicate that the cost per watt of c-Si and CdTe solar cells are being reduced to levels beyond the constraints commonly associated with these technologies. With a focus on TW/yr production capacity, the issue of material availability is discussed along with the emerging technologies of dye-sensitized solar cells and organic photovoltaics that are potentially less constrained by elemental abundance. Lastly, recommendations are made for research investment, with an emphasis on those areas that are expected to have cross-cutting impact.
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In this report the environmental aspects of solar cell modules based on multicrystalline silicon are investigated by means of the Environmental Life Cycle Assessment method. Three technology cases are distinguished, namely present-day module production technology, future probable technology and future optimistic technology. For these three cases the production technology is described, the material requirements and environmental emissions are inventarised and the energy requirements and energy pay-back times are discussed. Finally recommendations with respect to Dutch photovoltaic R&D policy are given.
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Solar energy systems (photovoltaics, solar thermal, solar power) provide significant environmental benefits in comparison to the conventional energy sources, thus contributing, to the sustainable development of human activities. Sometimes however, their wide scale deployment has to face potential negative environmental implications. These potential problems seem to be a strong barrier for a further dissemination of these systems in some consumers.To cope with these problems this paper presents an overview of an Environmental Impact Assessment. We assess the potential environmental intrusions in order to ameliorate them with new technological innovations and good practices in the future power systems. The analysis provides the potential burdens to the environment, which include—during the construction, the installation and the demolition phases, as well as especially in the case of the central solar technologies—noise and visual intrusion, greenhouse gas emissions, water and soil pollution, energy consumption, labour accidents, impact on archaeological sites or on sensitive ecosystems, negative and positive socio-economic effects.
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In this study, the environmental load of photovoltaic power generation system (PV) during its life cycle and energy payback time (EPT) are evaluated by LCA scheme. Two hypothetical case studies in Toyohashi, Japan and Gobi dessert in China have been carried out to investigate the influence of installation location and PV type on environmental load and EPT. The environmental load and EPT of a high-concentration photovoltaic power generation system (hcpV) and a multi-crystalline silicon photovoltaic power generation system (mc-Si PV) are studied. The study shows for a PV of 100Â MW size, the total impacts of the hcpV installed in Toyohashi is larger than that of the hcpV installed in Gobi desert by 5% without consideration of recycling stage. The EPT of the hcpV assumed to be installed in Gobi desert is shorter than EPT of the hcpV assumed to be installed in Toyohashi by 0.64Â year. From these results, the superiority to install PV in Gobi desert is certificated. Comparing with hcpV and mc-Si PV, the ratio of the total impacts of mc-Si PV to that of hcpV is 0.34 without consideration of recycling stage. The EPT of hcpV is longer than EPT of mc-Si PV by 0.27Â year. The amount of global solar radiation contributing to the amount of power generation of mc-Si PV is larger than the amount of direct solar radiation contributing to the amount of power generation of hcpV by about 188Â kWÂ h/(m2Â year) in Gobi desert. Consequently, it appears that using mc-Si PV in Gobi desert is the best option.
Conference Paper
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The various detrimental environmental and health effects of conventional electricity generation have long been recognized. Renewable technologies offer the opportunity for reducing such impacts, but, during their entire life cycle, their use is not without effects. Indeed, some major European and Australian studies portrayed photovoltaic systems as causing significant life-cycle environmental and health impacts, due to the fossil energy used in the production of cell and module materials. However, the most recent studies on the life-cycle impacts of c-Si and thin film photovoltaics show that they are drastically lower than the ones earlier reported. Such improvements reflect the more effective use of material, thinner layers, improvements in the balance-of-systems components and installation, frameless modules, and higher conversion efficiencies. This paper summarizes a comparison of the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from the life-cycle of PV, nuclear, fossil and biomass electricity generation in the U.S
Article
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Market projections for cadmium-telluride (CdTe) thin-film photovoltaics (PV) are tempered by global environmental policies based on the precautionary principle which restrict electronic products containing cadmium, a known human carcinogen. An alternative to the precautionary principle is life cycle management, which involves manufacturers assuming product stewardship from beginning to end of product life. Both approaches have the aim of minimizing environmental contamination, but attempt to do so in different ways. Restrictions on electronic products containing cadmium by the precautionary principle-based restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS) directive in the European Union and a similar policy in China are presented, relative to their potential impact on CdTe PV. Life cycle environmental risks with respect to potential release of cadmium to the environment are also presented for routine operation of CdTe PV panels, potential catastrophic release of cadmium from a residential fire, and at the end of the product life. There is negligible risk of environmental cadmium contamination during routine operation and insignificant risk during catastrophic exposure events such as fire. At the end of the product life, risks of contamination are minimized by take-back programs that may be paid for by insurance premiums incorporated into the cost of the product. Therefore, policies based on the precautionary principle that could potentially ban the product based on its cadmium content may not be warranted.
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A CO2 comprehensive balance within the life-cycle of a photovoltaic energy system requires careful examination of the CO2 sinks and sources at the locations and under the conditions of production of each component, during transport, installation and operation, as well as at the site of recycling. Calculations of the possible effect on CO2 reduction by PV energy systems may be incorrect if system borders are not set wide enough and remain on a national level, as can be found in the literature. For the examples of Brazil and Germany, the effective CO2 reductions have been derived, also considering possible interchange scenarios for production and operation of the PV systems considering the carbon dioxide intensity of the local electricity grids. In the case of Brazil also off-grid applications and the substitution of diesel generating sets by photovoltaics are examined: CO2 reduction may reach 26,805 kg/kWp in that case. Doing these calculations, the compositions of the local grids and their CO2 intensity at the time of PV grid injection have to be taken into account. Also possible changes of the generation fuel mix in the future have to be considered: During the operation time of a PV system, different kinds of power plants could be installed that might change the CO2 intensity of the grid. In the future also advanced technologies such as thin films have to be considered.
Article
The environmental burden of multi-Si PV modules in China has been discussed in existing studies, however, their data are mostly from local enterprises, and none of their environmental assessment involves the decommissioning and recycling process. This study quantitatively assesses the life-cycle environmental impacts of Chinese Multi-crystalline Photovoltaic Systems involving the recycling process. The LCA software GaBi is applied to establish the LCA model and to perform the calculation, and ReCiPe method is chosen to quantify the environmental impacts. LCA of production process reveals that Polysilicon production, Cell processing and Modules assembling have relatively higher environmental impact than processes of Industrial silicon smelting and Ingot casting and Wafer slicing. Among the 14 environmental impact categories evaluated by ReCiPe methodology, the most prominent environment impacts are found as Climate Change and Human Toxicity. LCA including recycling process reveals that although recycling process has environmental impact, the recycling scenario has less environmental impact by comparing with the landfill scenario. Among the five manufacturing processes and recycling process, environmental impacts of polysilicon production, cell processing and modules assembling have relatively higher uncertainty, probably because that the environmental impact of these processes is high, and standard error of parameters such as electricity, aluminum and glass in the three processes are high. Findings of our study indicate that proper measures should be taken in the high pollution processes such as polysilicon production and cell processing. In addition, efforts should also be made to enhance the recovery rate and seek for more environmental friendly materials in the recycling process.
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Photovoltaic system is a technology for the production of electricity from renewable sources that is rapidly expanding thanks to its capability to reduce the energy consumption from traditional sources and to decrease the air pollution. During the exercise phase, there are no emissions and the only input is represented by solar power. However, it should be noted that, considering the entire life cycle of a plant, photovoltaic systems, like any other means of electricity production, give rise to emissions, that focus especially in the manufacturing stage and installation of components. The present work aims at evaluating the environmental impact, and therefore the actual sustainability of this technology, examining a ground-mounted 1,778.48 kWp photovoltaic plant, realized by TerniEnergia (joint stock company) and located in Marsciano (Perugia, Italy). The analysis is conducted using the methodology of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which allows to consider all stages of the life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials to the plant’s disposal (“from a cradle to grave perspective”). In particular, the study takes into account the soil preparation, the installation of fence and electrical substations of low and medium voltage, the mounting of support structures, also with reference to hot dip galvanizing process, the production of modules, their installation, the wiring apparatus and the network connection. The transport of all components to the installation site is considered for each stage that is examined. The end of life scenario of the plant is also evaluated. The possibility to collect many detailed information in the construction site, during the building phase, adds value to the study. The analysis is carried out according to UNI EN ISO 14040 and UNI EN ISO 14044, which regulate the LCA procedure. The LCA modelling was performed using SimaPro software application and using Eco Indicator 99 methodology. The results of the analysis allows to calculate some important parameters like EPBT (Energy Pay-Back Time), EROEI (Energy Return on Energy Invested), CO2 emissions and GWP100 (Global Warming Potential). Finally, the environmental impact of photovoltaic plant is compared to that of some traditional energy production systems.
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Consolidated tables showing an extensive listing of the highest independently confirmed efficiencies for solar cells and modules are presented. Guidelines for inclusion of results into these tables are outlined and new entries since July 2014 are reviewed. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Article
The environmental profiles of photovoltaic (PV) systems are becoming better as materials are used more efficiently in their production, and overall system performance improves. Our analysis details the material and energy inventories in the life cycle of high‐concentration PV systems, and, based on measured field‐performances, evaluates their energy payback times, life cycle greenhouse gas emissions, and usage of land and water. Although operating high‐concentration PV systems require considerable maintenance, their life cycle environmental burden is much lower than that of the flat‐plate c‐Si systems operating in the same high‐insolation regions. The estimated energy payback times of the Amonix 7700 PV system in operation at Phoenix, AZ, is only 0.9 year, and its estimated greenhouse gas emissions are 27 g CO2‐eq./kWh over 30 years, or approximately 16 g CO2‐eq./kWh over 50 years. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Article
A 100 MW very large-scale photovoltaic power generation (VLS-PV) system is designed assuming that it will be installed in the Gobi desert, which is one of the major deserts in the world. Array arrangement, array support, foundation, wiring, and so on are designed in detail. Then energy payback time (EPT), life-cycle CO2 emission rate and generation cost of the system are estimated based on the methodology of life-cycle analysis. As a result of the estimation, 1.7 year of EPT and 12 g C/kWh of CO2 emission rate are obtained. These show that VLS-PV in the Gobi desert would be very promising for the global energy and environmental issues. The generation cost is calculated at 8.6cent/kWh assuming that PV module price is one US $/W and system lifetime is 30 years.
Article
This paper reports a new procedure for the recovery of resources from waste photovoltaic modules. The tempered glass was recovered using organic solvents. The metal impurities were removed by applying a chemical etching solution on the surface of the PV cell. We offer a much more efficient approach for recycling PV cells than the conventional method. The highest yield of silicon recovered was 86% when the PV cell was placed in the chemical etching solution for 20 min, along with the surfactant, which accounted for 20% of the total solution's weight at room temperature. This investigation showed that a high yield of pure silicon with purity of 99.999% could be obtained. The recovered pure silicon from waste PV modules would be contributed to the solution of several problems such as the supply of silicon, manufacturing costs, and end-of-life management of PV modules.
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A sustainable recycling of photovoltaic (PV) thin film modules gains in importance due to the considerable growing of the PV market and the increasing scarcity of the resources for semiconductor materials. The paper presents the development of two strategies for thin film PV recycling based on (wet) mechanical processing for broken modules, and combined thermal and mechanical methods for end-of-life modules. The feasibility of the processing steps was demonstrated in laboratory scale as well as in semi-technical scale using the example of CdTe and CIS modules. Pre-concentrated valuables In and Te from wet mechanical processing can be purified to the appropriate grade for the production of new modules.An advantage of the wet mechanical processing in comparison to the conventional procedure might be the usage of no or a small amount of chemicals during the several steps.Some measures are necessary in order to increase the efficiency of the wet mechanical processing regarding the improvement of the valuable yield and the related enrichment of the semiconductor material.The investigation of the environmental impacts of both recycling strategies indicates that the strategy, which includes wet mechanical separation, has clear advantages in comparison to the thermal treatment or disposal on landfills.
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The life-cycle analysis (LCA) of photovoltaic (PV) systems is an important tool to quantify the potential environmental advantage of using solar technologies versus more traditional technologies, especially the ones relying on non-renewable fossil fuel sources.This work performs a life-cycle assessment on a 200kW roof top photovoltaic (PV) system with polycrystalline silicon modules and evaluates the net energy pay-back and greenhouse gas emission rates. The performed life-cycle assessment “upstream” and “downstream” processes are considered, such as raw materials production, fabrication of system components, transportation and installation. The energy pay-back time ratio is determined for the installed technology and two other technologies of PV modules (monocrystalline and thin-film).The analysed PV system, located in Pineda de Mar (Catalonia, Spain), has an energy pay-back time ratio of 4.36 years. Furthermore, a sensibility analysis on solar radiation has been performed.
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The purpose of this study was to identify a suitable type of mega-solar system from an environmental viewpoint. The authors evaluated six types of 20 different PV modules by life cycle analysis (LCA) with actual equipment data and output. The types were single crystal silicon (sc-Si), amorphous silicon (a-Si)/sc-Si, multicrystalline silicon (mc-Si), a-Si, microcrystalline silicon (µc-Si)/a-Si and CIS. The boundaries of LCA were from the mining stage to that of waste management. Mining, manufacturing and waste management information was taken from an LCA database, while data on transport, construction and amounts of equipment were obtained from actual systems. Since the irradiation figures and electricity output were also actual data, we could avoid the difficulties of making assumptions for values such as the actual output power of thin films. In addition, installation at a single plant provided suitable conditions for comparing PV systems. The results showed an energy requirement ranging from 19 to 48 GJ/kW and an energy payback time of between 1.4 and 3.8 years. CO2 emissions were from 1.3 to 2.7 t-CO2/kW, and CO2 emission rates ranged from 31 to 67 g-CO2/kWh. The multicrystalline (mc-Si) and CIS types showed good results because mc-Si and CIS PV modules have high efficiency and a lower energy requirement. In particular, the CIS module generated more electricity than expected with catalogue efficiency. The single crystal silicon PV module did not produce good results because, considering their energy requirement, installed sc-Si PV modules do not have high efficiency. However, the operation data used covered only 1 year; data from a longer period should be collected to obtain long-term irradiation figures and clarify degradation. Copyright
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Large-scale solar power plants are being developed at a rapid rate, and are setting up to use thousands or millions of acres of land globally. The environmental issues related to the installation and operation phases of such facilities have not, so far, been addressed comprehensively in the literature. Here we identify and appraise 32 impacts from these phases, under the themes of land use intensity, human health and well-being, plant and animal life, geohydrological resources, and climate change. Our appraisals assume that electricity generated by new solar power facilities will displace electricity from traditional U.S. generation technologies. Altogether we find 22 of the considered 32 impacts to be beneficial. Of the remaining 10 impacts, 4 are neutral, and 6 require further research before they can be appraised. None of the impacts are negative relative to traditional power generation. We rank the impacts in terms of priority, and find all the high-priority impacts to be beneficial. In quantitative terms, large-scale solar power plants occupy the same or less land per kWÂ h than coal power plant life cycles. Removal of forests to make space for solar power causes CO2 emissions as high as 36Â g CO2 kWÂ h-1, which is a significant contribution to the life cycle CO2 emissions of solar power, but is still low compared to CO2 emissions from coal-based electricity that are about 1100Â g CO2 kWÂ h-1.
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- Part 1: Present Situation and Future Perspectives Part 2: Application on an Island Economy Goal, Scope and Background In the first part of this paper, we developed a methodology to incorporate exposure and risk concepts into life cycle impact assessment (LCIA). We argued that both risk assessment and LCIA are needed to consider the impacts of increasing insulation for single-family homes in the US from current practice to the levels recommended by the 2000 International Energy Conservation Codes. In this analysis, we apply our model to the insulation case study and evaluate the benefits and costs of increased insulation for new housing. Results and Discussion The central estimate of impacts from the complete insulation manufacturing supply chain is approximately 17 premature deaths, 470 asthma attacks, and 8.100 restricted activity days nationwide for one year of increased fiberglass output. Of the health impacts associated with increased insulation manufacturing, 83% are attributable to the supply chain emissions from the mineral wool industry, which is mostly associated with the direct primary PM2.5 emissions from the industry (98%). Reduced energy consumption leads to 1.3 premature deaths, 36 asthma attacks, and 610 restricted activity days avoided per year, indicating a public health 'payback period' on the order of 13 years. Almost 90% of these benefits were associated with direct emissions from power plants and residential combustion sources. In total, the net present value of economic benefits over a 50-year period for a single-year cohort of new homes is $240 million with a 5% discount rate, with 49 fewer premature deaths in this period. Conclusion Recommendation and Outlook. We have developed and applied a risk-based model to quantify the public health costs and benefits of increased insulation in new single-family homes in the US, demonstrating positive net economic and public health benefits within the lifetimes of the homes. More broadly, we demonstrated that it is feasible to incorporate exposure and risk concepts into I-O LCA, relying on regression-based intake fractions followed by more refined dispersion modeling. The refinement step is recommended especially if primary PM2.5 is an important source of exposure and if stack heights are relatively low. Where secondary PM2.5 is more important, use of regression-based intake fractions would be sufficient for a reasonable risk approximation. Uncertainties in our risk-based model should be carefully considered; nevertheless, our study can help decision-makers evaluate the costs and benefits of demand-side management policy options from a combined public health and life cycle perspective.
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This paper applies the product life cycle framework to analyze the impact of global trends on the Indian photovoltaic industry. The author believes that consolidation in the Indian industry simultaneous with exploiting its comparative advantage of flexible and low cost production techniques would help it stand on its own feet beyond the protectionist subsidy era. Service provision and financing are likely to represent significant revenue opportunities while dwindling margins on module manufacture would expedite formation of vertically integrated energy service delivery chains.