DBPapers
DOI: 10.5593/sgem2017/41/S18.041

WASTE ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT (WEEE): A CLOSER LOOK AT PHOTOVOLTAIC PANELS

S. Kusch, M. A. T. Alsheyab
Tuesday 12 September 2017 by Libadmin2017

References: 17th International Multidisciplinary Scientific GeoConference SGEM 2017, www.sgem.org, SGEM2017 Conference Proceedings, ISBN 978-619-7408-06-5 / ISSN 1314-2704, 29 June - 5 July, 2017, Vol. 17, Issue 41, 317-324 pp, DOI: 10.5593/sgem2017/41/S18.041

ABSTRACT

End-of-life solar photovoltaic (PV) panels represent a waste stream that will show high and rapid increase from 2020 onwards. Annual quantities could rise by a factor of 25 or higher in the period 2020 to 2050, turning waste PV panels into a material stream that will account for a significant share of waste electrical and electronic equipment occurrence. Assessing the types of modules on the market displays a high and further growing variety of PV panels, showing differences in design, basic technology and used components, which poses specific challenges with view to recycling. A compilation of the composition of main PV panel types reveals that standard recycling procedures can be applied to those components that account for the major share of the panel mass (glass, aluminum, polymers, electronics). However, PV panels also contain precious materials such as indium, gallium, tellurium, silver, but they account for very low percentages of the total panel mass. Precious materials warrant increased efforts to implement advanced PV recycling processes that aim at recuperation of low concentrated constituents. At the same time, in particular when managing thin-film PV panels, hazardous components (cadmium, heavy metals) require specific attention.

Keywords: e-waste, solar energy, solar panels, photovoltaic modules, end-of-life management

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