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.