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Producer responsibility and recycling solar photovoltaic modules


  • McDonald, N.C.
  • Pearce, J.M.


Rapid expansion of the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry is quickly causing solar to play a growing importance in the energy mix of the world. Over the full life cycle, although to a smaller degree than traditional energy sources, PV also creates solid waste. This paper examines the potential need for PV recycling policies by analyzing existing recycling protocols for the five major types of commercialized PV materials. The amount of recoverable semiconductor material and glass in a 1Â m2 area solar module for the five types of cells is quantified both physically and the profit potential of recycling is determined. The cost of landfill disposal of the whole solar module, including the glass and semiconductor was also determined for each type of solar module. It was found that the economic motivation to recycle most PV modules is unfavorable without appropriate policies. Results are discussed on the need to regulate for appropriate energy and environmental policy in the PV manufacturing industry particularly for PV containing hazardous materials. The results demonstrate the need to encourage producer responsibility not only in the PV manufacturing sector but also in the entire energy industry.

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  • McDonald, N.C. & Pearce, J.M., 2010. "Producer responsibility and recycling solar photovoltaic modules," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(11), pages 7041-7047, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:38:y:2010:i:11:p:7041-7047

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    Cited by:

    1. Goe, Michele & Gaustad, Gabrielle, 2014. "Strengthening the case for recycling photovoltaics: An energy payback analysis," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 41-48.
    2. Akinyele, D.O. & Rayudu, R.K. & Nair, N.K.C., 2015. "Global progress in photovoltaic technologies and the scenario of development of solar panel plant and module performance estimation − Application in Nigeria," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 112-139.
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    5. Wang Hongwei & Zhang Kai & Vanessa Yanhua Zhang, . "The Impacts and Interaction of Upstream and Downstream Policies for the Solar Photovoltaic Industries of China," Chapters, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).
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    7. Cucchiella, Federica & D׳Adamo, Idiano & Rosa, Paolo, 2015. "End-of-Life of used photovoltaic modules: A financial analysis," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 552-561.
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    14. repec:eee:rensus:v:82:y:2018:i:p3:p:2934-2945 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Perez-Gallardo, J.R. & Azzaro-Pantel, C. & Astier, S. & Domenech, S. & Aguilar-Lasserre, A., 2014. "Ecodesign of photovoltaic grid-connected systems," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 82-97.
    16. Tammaro, Marco & Rimauro, Juri & Fiandra, Valeria & Salluzzo, Antonio, 2015. "Thermal treatment of waste photovoltaic module for recovery and recycling: Experimental assessment of the presence of metals in the gas emissions and in the ashes," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 103-112.
    17. Kaldellis, J.K. & Zafirakis, D. & Stavropoulou, V. & Kaldelli, El., 2012. "Optimum wind- and photovoltaic-based stand-alone systems on the basis of life cycle energy analysis," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 345-357.
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    19. Michael Redlinger & Roderick Eggert & Michael Woodhouse, 2014. "Evaluating the Availability of Gallium, Indium, and Tellurium from Recycled Photovoltaic Modules," Working Papers 2014-09, Colorado School of Mines, Division of Economics and Business.
    20. Ornella Malandrino & Daniela Sica & Mario Testa & Stefania Supino, 2017. "Policies and Measures for Sustainable Management of Solar Panel End-of-Life in Italy," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(4), pages 1-15, March.
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