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Techincal Article from Waaree Group on PV Panel Recycling – Current Status & Future Opportunities – EQ Mag

Techincal Article from Waaree Group on PV Panel Recycling – Current Status & Future Opportunities – EQ Mag


Millions of solar PV modules have been installed worldwide over the last four decades to meet energy demand and to maximise their potential as a sustainable energy source. More than 90% of solar panels that have reached the end of their useful lives are being disposed of in landfills, which is dangerous for the environment.

Figure 1: Solar panel recycling process
(Source: (i) Suny Group, China (ii) Di Kang, PV module recycling Asia-Pacific solar research conference paper)

The recycling of PV panels involves five main steps: the separation of the junction box, cable, and aluminium frame; crushing and shredding of the panels; thermal treatment; automatic separation; and chemical treatment. After shredding process, high temperature treatment is carried out to separate silicon cells from encapsulant layers and backsheet. After that, an automatic separation procedure results in the recovery of silicon, metals, and plastic. The final step involves chemically treating silicon cells to recover silicon for use in creating new solar cells.

The size of the global PV module recycling market was estimated at USD 127.7 million in 2019. According to recent market research data, a CAGR of 37.0% growth is anticipated in the coming years starting at the end of 2022. With China being the largest market, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to see the fastest growth in the PV panel recycling market. Asia-Pacific nations like China and India now have the most installed PV capacitY.

Figure 2: PV panel recycling market growth rate prediction region-wise from year 2020-2025 (Source: Mordor Intelligence)

Based on the process, the solar panel recycling market is split into three categories: thermal recycling, mechanical recycling, and laser recycling. Between 2022 and 2030, it is expected that the mechanical process would expand quickly, accounting for more than 50% of global sales.

Figure 3: Solar Panel Recycling Market by Process(USD million)
(Source: Secondary Research, Primary Research, MRFR Database and Analyst Review)

Nevertheless, the laser process categories is expected to grow at fastest rate in terms of revenue and volume over the forecasted period. Although, the thermal approach has limited set of applications, it is expected to increase over time due to decrease in silicon concentration in solar modules.

Figure 4: Solar panel recycling market share by region (%)
(Source: Secondary Research, Primary Research, MRFR Database and Analyst Review)

The market is divided into four worldwide regions in the report: Europe, North America, specific Asia, and the rest of the world. The market for recycling modules in the Asia-Pacific region was estimated to be worth USD 0.88 billion in 2022, and it is expected to grow at a significant CAGR through the year 2030. The fastest growing sector in the Asia Pacific area will be the solar module recycling market in China and India.

Major module recycling Market Drivers

1. Rise in use of PV panels in solar installations globally
2. Landfill concern about spaces & stringent regulatory norms associated with solar panels disposal.
3. Recovery of metals including Cu, Ag, Al, Pb, and silicon, as well as reusability options, are being explored in the face of a metals and semiconductor material shortage and rising prices.
4. Glass recovery and reuse in panel manufacturing and other applications.

Major Key players

1. PV Cycle (European body regulating compliance and waste management for PV panels and battery products and providing recycling certification)
2. Solar Cycle, CA, USA
3. Dynamic lifecycle innovations, Wisconsin, USA
4. Canadian solar Inc., Canada
5. Morgen industries Inc., NJ, USA
6. Reclaim PV recycling Pty. Ltd., Australia
7. Silicontel Ltd., Israel
8. ENVARIS Gmbh, Berlin, Germany
9. First solar, Arizona, USA
10. Total green recycling, Australia
11. Recycle solar technologies Ltd., UK
12. Suny Group, China
13. Vital Materials Co. Ltd., Hong Kong

Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network