In Austria more and more solar modules are installed and we see an increase in the solar energy produced. But what happens when solar modules meet the end of their life span? In the cooperative project PVReValue, we are looking for a solution to recycle solar modules.
Project "PVReValue" - Concept and Partner
"When solar modules stop working, the first important step would be to determine, using appropriate measurement techniques, whether the modules are suitable for a second-life application (meeting technical and safety requirements) or need to be recycled and considered as 'waste'," shares Lukas Neumaier, project coordinator at SAL. This can be achieved by repairing them, using e.g., a coating that can be used to seal cracks in the polymer backsheet of PV Modules so that they can continue to produce electricity in a safe manner. When they are not suitable for a second life application, the second step is to extract as many recyclable materials as possible to use them as raw materials for other products. Fortunately, 85% of the Material of PV modules is already recyclable. In small amounts, you can find integrated components like silver, copper and silicon in PV modules, which could be recovered for their economic value.
In the "PVReValue" research project coordinated by MUL, SAL and partners are working together to develop a holistic recycling system for PV modules. The TU Vienna, the Polymer Competence Center Leoben, the Austrian Research Institute for Chemistry and Technology (OFI) and Silicon Austria Labs are scientific partners, while the corporate partners come from the manufacturing industry or are waste management companies. The idea behind the joint initiative is to create the basis for the most complete possible reprocessing and recycling process for PV modules.