Sunday, February 19, 2012

End of life PV

Solar energy is regarded as a clean and green source of energy. But what happens to PV panels after the end of their life time?

Following massive growth in the photo voltaic sector with world class R&D and technology innovations, established PV industries are facing the challenge of enabling proper disposal of PV modules after they cease to work or get damaged. Modules typically have a life of 25 to 30 years from the time of installation and a fraction of them get damaged during transportation and commissioning at site. PV modules contain glass, aluminium and semi-conductor material which can be recycled for use in new modules and other products. There are some processes in place, that help in recovering these ingredient components. Crystalline-Silicon and Cadmium-Teluride modules are crushed in a mill and different constituent elements are separated. The glass that is extracted is readily accepted by glass foam/glass insulation industries and the semiconductor material is used in new solar modules.

Leading CdTe module manufacturer First Solar has developed a process for efficient material recovery from non-functional modules. Their process claims to recover 90% of glass and 95% of semiconductor material. 80% recovery of tellurium is also an expected outcome of their recycling procedure.

The solar industry is well ahead of its times and is gearing up to come up with sustainable solutions and suitable processes for safe and friendly PV module disposal and reuse for all types of PV technologies. This will enable the solar sector to offer100% green energy to the world.

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