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ReSi-Norm project aims to stan­dard­ize and improve the recy­cling of solar cells

Solar ener­gy plays a major role in the renew­able ener­gy mix for Ger­many, but also world­wide. By 2030, the Inter­na­tion­al Renew­able Ener­gy Agency IRENA expects up to 2,840 gigawatts of installed capac­i­ty for solar ener­gy. Accord­ing to a study by Fraun­hofer ISE, around 54 gigawatts of solar capac­i­ty will already be installed in Ger­many by the end of 2020 — equiv­a­lent to two mil­lion sys­tems. Even though their lifes­pan is quite long and they remain in oper­a­tion for up to 30 years, they will even­tu­al­ly have to be dis­posed of and, in the best case, recycled.

Var­i­ous more or less effi­cient process­es and con­cepts for recy­cling dis­card­ed PV mod­ules are already in use today. How­ev­er, in order to assess this, there is a lack of stan­dard­i­s­a­tion and stan­dard­i­s­a­tion of recy­cling process­es for PV mod­ules so that the full poten­tial of recy­cling can be exploit­ed. The project “Stan­dard­i­s­a­tion and stan­dard­i­s­a­tion of recy­cling process­es for sil­i­con solar mod­ules — ReSi-Norm” has now tak­en on this goal.

Mechan­i­cal, ther­mal and chem­i­cal recy­cling process­es for PV mod­ules have been researched for over 15 years. With mod­ern recy­cling process­es, it is the­o­ret­i­cal­ly pos­si­ble today to recy­cle old mod­ules in such a way that the valu­able mate­ri­als can be almost com­plete­ly returned to a pro­duc­tion process as sec­ondary raw mate­ri­als. But if larg­er quan­ti­ties are to be recy­cled in the next decade, these process­es will have to be con­tin­u­ous­ly improved, espe­cial­ly with regard to effi­cien­cy and resource con­ser­va­tion. It is also nec­es­sary to estab­lish com­pa­ra­bil­i­ty between the pro­ce­dures in order to assess their efficiency.

Based on the state of research and oper­a­tional appli­ca­tions, the project par­ties of ReSi-Norm there­fore want to joint­ly set new stan­dards for the recy­cling of PV mod­ules and con­sid­er state-of-the-art process­es and research results for this pur­pose. Spe­cial con­sid­er­a­tion is giv­en to exist­ing results and find­ings from cur­rent nation­al or Euro­pean pro­grammes and devel­op­ment activ­i­ties. Thus, with­in the ReSi-Norm project, a stan­dard­ised pro­ce­dure and norms for col­lec­tion rates and real­is­tic recy­cling rates for the entire recy­clable mate­r­i­al pack­age of a PV mod­ule are to be devel­oped and implemented.