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Project overview
  • Lead Organisation

    University of New South Wales

    Location

    Kensington, New South Wales

    ARENA Program

    Addressing Solar PV End-of-Life Issues and Lowering Solar PV Cost

  • Start Date

    September 2020

    Status

    Current

  • Project Partners
    LONGi Green Energy Technology, Sino-American Silicon Products, PVTECH Global, Korean Institute of Energy Research

Summary

Developing economically-viable technologies to recycle solar modules and reuse recycled materials to remanufacture “new” PV modules.

Need

Solar PV capacity continues to increase with a record 121 GW installed worldwide in 2019. Cumulative capacity is projected to reach 4500 GW by 2050. This growth has led to significant volumes of PV waste as modules reach their end-of-life (EOL). In Australia, up to 17,000 tonnes of PV waste will be produced by 2020 (850,000 tonnes globally) and 950,000 tonnes by 2050 (78,000,000 tonnes globally). PV modules are expected to constitute 80% of this. In response, researchers and industry have developed over 100 methods to recycle EOL PV modules, but none are economically-viable at commercial-scale.

Action

This project aims to reduce recycling processing costs and improve the quality of resulting recycled material. Higher quality recycled materials may be reused in manufacturing “new” PV modules, thereby replacing raw materials during manufacturing, which will reduce costs & carbon emissions. The project includes four work packages:

  1. develop processes and prototypes to recycle valuable materials
  2. reuse silicon in remanufacturing high-efficiency cells
  3. reuse silver and glass in remanufacturing high-efficiency modules
  4. conduct life-cycle assessment and techno-economic assessment.

Outcome

This project aims to demonstrate cost-effective and sustainable reuse of recycled material from EOL silicon PV modules to remanufacture new modules and promote a circular economy in the PV industry. The technology aims to improve the energy payback time (to around 1 year) and reduce the cost of manufacturing new modules. This project aims to achieve:

  • > 80% EOL module reuse rate, i.e. more than 80% (by weight) of valuable materials from EOL modules will be reused to manufacture new modules
  • > 18% conversion efficiency using recycled material
  • < 5% light induced degradation (LID) of the remanufactured module.

Additional impact

This project is expected to create five full-time jobs (CIs, post-doctoral fellows, research associates and PhD students).

Last updated
02 October 2020
Last updated 02 October 2020

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