Suez begins operations at new PV panel recycling plant

(symbolic photo)
10.09.2018 − 

The French environmental services concern Suez has started up a new recycling facility for silicon-based solar modules in the town of Knittlingen in south-western Germany. Using a new recycling process, which combines mechanical, thermal and electrochemical treatment, up to 50,000 used end-of-life photovoltaic modules per year can be recycled and the raw materials they contain returned to the material cycle, the company announced late last week.

The processes used until now were able to recover only the panel glass, aluminium from the module frame and the copper from the cables, Suez explained. This new plant, the first of its kind according to the French group, allows for up to 90 per cent of the material continued in the modules to be recycled. "With our new process, we are tapping into a new source for precious metals as raw materials," said Herman Snellink, managing director of Suez Deutschland GmbH.

The concern expects the rapid expansion in the deployment of photovoltaic panels in Germany over the last 25 years to result in large volumes of panels reaching end of life beginning around 2020. "Our estimates put the volume of scrap modules to be recycled in Germany alone at 50,000 tonnes per year by 2026, with that figure quadrupling to 200,000 tonnes per year by 2040," said Mr Snellink.

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