End of Life Photovoltaic Panels: Recent Recycling Technology Development

L. Jiao
Grand Valley State University,
United States

Keywords: End-of-life, PV panels, Recycling, Technologies


In recent years, the deployment of photovoltaic (PV) systems has experienced an unprecedented growth rate, and it is projected that the global installed PV capacity will reach 4500 GW by 2050. Typically, the lifespan of a PV system ranges between 25 to 30 years [1]. As the number of PV installations increases, so does the number of systems reach their end-of-life (EOL). While the volume of decommissioned PV panels is currently low, estimates suggest that it could increase to 8 million tonnes globally by 2030 and 78 million tonnes globally by 2050 [1]. Recycling these panels is crucial to reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and to recover valuable resources such as glass, aluminum, and silicon. Despite efforts to reduce PV waste and recycle/reuse materials, most PV recycling technologies are still in the research and development stage. This presentation provides an overview of the current recycling technologies available for end-of-life PV panels, including mechanical, thermal, and chemical processes. The presentation examines the advantages and limitations of each recycling technology and discusses their environmental impact. We propose a novel environmentally friendly delamination process that integrates mechanical and thermal processes, aimed at decreasing harmful gaseous and pollutant emissions, while reducing energy consumption. While the current recycling technologies have their limitations, they offer significant opportunities to recover valuable resources and reduce the environmental impact of end-of-life PV panels. Further research is needed to develop more efficient and sustainable recycling technologies that can handle the expected increase in PV panel waste in the future. This requires collaboration between the PV industry, recyclers, and policymakers to ensure a sustainable and environmentally friendly end-of-life management of PV panels. [1] IRENA, End-Of-Life Management: Solar Photovoltaic Panels. International Renewable Energy Agency and the International Energy, 2016.