What are the recycled materials of photovoltaics?

The circular economy in construction
This approach, applied to construction, assumes a particularly significant value, as the sector produces tons of waste every year and is responsible for almost 30% of European waste. Introducing the circular economy in construction, therefore, would have enormous benefits in environmental terms, but it is necessary to rethink the processes and products themselves. The transformation process is probably not yet mature, but the opportunities are many and all to be seized and developed.

The evolution of technology, in fact, has led to an ever greater installation of photovoltaic power and, estimating an average life of a panel of about 20-25 years, in the next decades we will see an intense growth in the quantity of panels to be disposed of. Suffice it to say that at the end of 2019 the GSE estimated the presence of about 880 thousand plants in our country alone.

The disposal of photovoltaic panels
Photovoltaic panels are WEEE , Waste of Electrical or Electronic Equipment , and their disposal must be carried out in accordance with the provisions of Legislative Decree 49 of 14 March 2014, which transposes Directive 2012/19 / EU.

The domestic plants, not exceeding 10 kW must be taken to special collection sites, the list of which is available on the website of the WEEE Coordination Center. It is the responsibility of the reference center identified to take care of the management of the panels. Once the disposal has taken place, it is the responsibility of the plant manager (the owner) to notify the GSE by means of a specific form. Replacement interventions carried out during the incentive period must also be adequately communicated.

For the disposal of professional plants, it is necessary to transfer the panels to treatment plants through persons authorized for transport and to transmit information about it to the GSE, also attaching a copy of the waste identification form (FIR). Furthermore, for professional systems that must be completely decommissioned, there is the possibility of requesting the GSE to take care of all panel management operations at the end of its life cycle.

photovoltaic panels

What are the recycled materials of photovoltaics?
Correct disposal of the photovoltaic panels, in addition to avoiding the dispersion of potentially polluting substances into the environment, makes it possible to recover as much as possible the recyclable materials.

Photovoltaic panels are composed differently depending on the type of panel, but the most common is that of silicon modules, or “sandwiches” made of glass, EVA film, silicon, electrical connections in copper, Tedlar and aluminum . Therefore, these are mainly recyclable and potentially valuable materials. The various layers are joined together through a lamination process, which requires specific treatment phases to be able to recover the materials at the end of the panel’s life cycle.


Transparent organic solar cells aim to float on water

German research in the field of organic photovoltaics continues to produce records. If only a few days the extraordinary efficiency achieved by the Friedrich-Alexander University with modules of 26 and 204 square centimeters was celebrated, today it is the turn of the Fraunhofer ISE. The institute, in collaboration with the Freiburg Materials Research Center FMF, has created new transparent organic solar cells with an efficiency of 14.9% . In itself, the number may not be that surprising. What makes it special, consecrating it as a new world record, is the active area of ​​the cell to which it refers: a square centimeter .

Read also New efficiency records for organic photovoltaic modules

Why is it so important? Because as the researchers of the Fraunhofer ISE explain, one of the biggest challenges with photovoltaic technology (not just organic) is to transfer the conversion values ​​of light into electricity that are obtained on very small laboratory cells to larger areas.

The new record is the result of years of work and is part of an ambitious project: to create thin photovoltaic modules to be integrated into a floating fabric film with which to cover the water tanks. The initiative was baptized with the name of H2OPV and immediately found the support of the German Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy. The project partners are working simultaneously on different focuses: from the formulation of new organic semiconductors to the optimization of printing processes for the production of films, up to the testing of floating structures.

New materials for transparent organic solar cells
One of the first problems to be solved naturally concerns the duration of solar cells and their efficiency , factors that are still not comparable to those of silicon technology today. But the speed with which such products are being developed today is high. The team’s goal is to develop organic semiconductors that can boast a high yield and last at least a decade .