Recycling of RES technical components following the example of photovoltaic modules

Recycling of RES technical components following the example of photovoltaic modules

On 23 November 2020, Polish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Bogdan Rzońca of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:

“Promoting the use of renewable sources should ensure not only an increase in the number of renewable sources, but also economic development, thereby increasing employment, productivity and investment. This should be in line with the principles of the circular economy model. For many years there has been growing interest in harnessing solar energy to produce electricity using photovoltaic equipment.

The advantages include an unlimited energy source as well as the possibility of power modulation. On the other hand, the gradual ageing of photovoltaic installations is certainly a disadvantage. While previously limited to small capacity, photovoltaic sources can now be used to generate capacity measured in MW.

The rapid development of photovoltaic technology in recent years has been possible thanks to support schemes for green energy. PV modules produced in the 90s should be recycled, with recycling technologies being needed for all the materials used to produce them. It is essential to maximise the use of these same materials in the manufacture of subsequent equipment.

1. Does the Commission intend to increase financial support for the development of recycling for RES, especially in the solar energy sector?

2. How have EU funds been allocated so far in this area?

3. Is the Commission helping to fund research into the recycling of RES technical components?”

On 1 February 2021, Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The amount of waste from photovoltaic panels to be recycled is expected to rise during the coming decades. The EU has already adopted photovoltaic-specific waste management regulations, which include collection, recovery and recycling targets. The EU Directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment requires all producers that supply photovoltaic panels to the EU market to finance the costs of collecting and recycling them at the end of their life.

1. Resource efficiency and circularity are a priority of the European Green Deal. The Circular Economy Action Plan has initiatives along the entire life cycle of products. The Commission is currently also exploring the feasibility and relevance of ecodesign requirements aimed at improved recyclability of photovoltaic modules. The Commission expects that this will be accompanied by increased financial support in the EU for the development of recycling.

2. The EU funded at least four projects, under Horizon 2020, on photovoltaic waste, with a total contribution of approximately EUR 23 million.

3. Resource efficiency and circularity requirements are planned to cross the whole 2021-2022 work programme of Horizon Europe, including recyclability by design for new renewable technologies and recycling of photovoltaic and wind technology existing components.”


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