Photovoltaic systems installed 25 or 30 years ago are slowly reaching the end of their performance range. So far, wornout systems are being broken down in recycling plants using general technologies, and oftentimes residues are ending up in incinerators. A professional waste disposal system specialized in solar technology for optimal raw material utilization and targeted recycling does not exist yet.
RECYCLING AND CONTINUED DEVELOPMENT
The newly launched Austrian lead project “Sustainable Photovoltaics - PVRe²” is focusing on sustainable recycling, advanced material development and repairing damaged photovoltaic modules and components. Overall project manager Dr Gernot Oreski from PCCL: “The aim is to optimise the entire PV module recycling process on the one hand and to increase the recyclability of individual solar components on the other. For this purpose, we are researching the chemical, physical and mechanical basis for separating the individual components of a PV module. In order to enable the recycling of single-variety materials, we want to develop suitable measuring systems that allow a precise identification of the material composition of individual modules, which are also automated”.
The purity and functional properties of the materials should be preserved as well as possible. The key word here is upcycling: reusing the materials as far as possible. The repair of damaged modules is also taken into account. Lukas Neumaier CTR project manager: “The main focus is on developing suitable repair systems which can be used quickly and easily on the photovoltaic equipment itself in the field. In this way, it is possible to recognize as early and as quickly as possible whether there are signs of wear, for example, on film-based backsheets. This can improve the choice of which repairs should be made and ultimately extend performance and service life.”
RECYCLABLE PV SYSTEMS
Particular attention is paid to materials and material selection, beginning with the development of a low-cost and recyclable design (e.g., easy-to-dissolve adhesive bonds and thermoplastic materials), all the way to the reduction and avoidance of toxic and hazardous materials (e.g., lead). The research team also has access to successful results from previous projects—such as lead-free solar energy systems or the research project Infinity.
The consortium comprises nine partners, including five industrial partners and four research institutions. This research project will lay crucial foundations for sustainable photovoltaic systems.
Project Data & Facts
Title: PVRe2 - Sustainable Photovoltaics
Project management: Polymer Competence Center Leoben GmbH
Scientific partners: CTR Carinthian Tech Research AG, Montanuniversitaet Leoben - Chair of Waste Processing Technology and Waste Management, OFI Technologie & Innovation GmbH, PCCL Polymer Competence Center Leoben GmbH
Industry partners: ENcome Energy Performance GmbH, Isovoltaic Solinex GmbH, KIOTO Photovoltaics GmbH, Peter Seppele GmbH, VDE Renewables GmbH
Duration: 3 years (09.2018 - 08.2021)
Total budget: 2,6 Mio €
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