As a consequence of the photovoltaic (PV) market expansion in the last 20 years, the cumulative global PV waste is expected to exponentially grow. A proper disposal of decommissioned PV panels is crucial for avoiding environmental risks and for recovering value-added materials. In this study, a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was performed in order to assess the environmental performance of a new recycling process for crystalline silicon (c-Si) PV panels, at the End of Life (EoL). The process was developed in the framework of the ReSiELP (Recovery of Silicon and other materials from the End-of-Life Photovoltaic Panels) project, aiming at recovering valuable resources from EoL PV c-Si modules and making the recovered materials readily available for different supply chains, in line with the principles of Circular Economy. A “gate to gate” approach was used to investigate two lines of activities: (i) the Recovery line, dedicated to the recovery of secondary raw materials from EoL c-Si PV panels, namely aluminium, copper, glass, silver and silicon, and (ii) the Glass reuse line, for the employment of the recovered glass in prefabricated building components (predalles slabs). The results highlight energy consumption, chemicals and transportation as the main hotspots of the ReSiELP process. For a comprehensive evaluation, the generated loads were compared with the potential environmental benefits gained thanks to the recovery of aluminium, at the largest extent. Overall, the LCA analysis showed that the investigated process is environmentally favorable, also when compared to other EoL PV panels recycling scenarios reported in literature.

A Life Cycle Assessment of a recovery process from End-of-Life Photovoltaic Panels

Ansanelli G.;Fiorentino G.;Tammaro M.;Zucaro A.
2021

Abstract

As a consequence of the photovoltaic (PV) market expansion in the last 20 years, the cumulative global PV waste is expected to exponentially grow. A proper disposal of decommissioned PV panels is crucial for avoiding environmental risks and for recovering value-added materials. In this study, a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was performed in order to assess the environmental performance of a new recycling process for crystalline silicon (c-Si) PV panels, at the End of Life (EoL). The process was developed in the framework of the ReSiELP (Recovery of Silicon and other materials from the End-of-Life Photovoltaic Panels) project, aiming at recovering valuable resources from EoL PV c-Si modules and making the recovered materials readily available for different supply chains, in line with the principles of Circular Economy. A “gate to gate” approach was used to investigate two lines of activities: (i) the Recovery line, dedicated to the recovery of secondary raw materials from EoL c-Si PV panels, namely aluminium, copper, glass, silver and silicon, and (ii) the Glass reuse line, for the employment of the recovered glass in prefabricated building components (predalles slabs). The results highlight energy consumption, chemicals and transportation as the main hotspots of the ReSiELP process. For a comprehensive evaluation, the generated loads were compared with the potential environmental benefits gained thanks to the recovery of aluminium, at the largest extent. Overall, the LCA analysis showed that the investigated process is environmentally favorable, also when compared to other EoL PV panels recycling scenarios reported in literature.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12079/64771
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