Photovoltaic (PV) deployment has accelerated in recent years compared to projections in the early 2010s. This means that PV end of life (EOL) waste streams will also increase at a higher pace than anticipated. To meet and optimise PV EOL management, appropriate regulatory and technological approaches must be implemented in the near term, ensuring that available options are adapted to the conditions of each country or region. This report aims to review the current regulatory and industrial landscape for selected countries belonging to the International Energy Agency’s PV Power Systems technology collaboration programme, to assess status of PV EOL management, allow for comparison and cross-fertilization, and establish a foundation for future tracking of progress.
Although volumes of EOL PV modules are still small, EOL PV is treated and recycled in a proper manner in the countries and regions that have EOL regulations in place. However, the current low volumes, limited available recycling technologies, logistics challenges, and undeveloped markets for recovered materials result in a high-cost, low-revenue scenario for PV module recycling globally. Nevertheless, the implementation of PV EOL regulations in more countries and R&D investment in PV recycling is expected to accelerate further improvements to meet future demand and to achieve high-value, low-cost recycling.
We hope this report contributes to understanding the global status of PV recycling and to accelerating its development as a promising option for the proper EOL management of PV modules in the coming decades.