TASK — 12

Advances in Module Recycling – Literature Review and Update to Empirical LCI Data and Patent Review

DOI: https://doi.org/10.69766/IPDB8111

The report reveals a landmark achievement in global solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity, which exceeded 1 TW in 2022, and highlights the urgent need to manage the growing number of defective and end-of-life PV modules. It delves into the latest advancements in PV recycling technologies, showcasing innovative solutions that transform waste into valuable resources. Through a comprehensive survey of global recyclers, an in-depth literature review, and a detailed patent search, the study uncovers best practices and cutting-edge methods for material recovery and energy efficiency. This report underscores the critical role of recycling in promoting a circular economy and enhancing environmental sustainability, making it a must-read for anyone invested in the future of clean energy. 

The main authors have identified the following 3 Key Takeaways from the report:

  • Global interest in PV recycling is rising dramatically, as evidenced by steep increases in publications and patents and a growing number of recyclers that accept PV modules. 
  • Mechanical recycling, which is optimized for costs, capacity, and output, is the current PV recycling benchmark, but it frequently includes some downgrading of material quality. 
  • Pilot-stage demonstrations with innovative technologies, such as light pulse treatment, water-jet cleaning, pyrolysis, and chemical treatment, offer excellent recycling quality in terms of yield and purity of recovered materials and economic value opportunities.