Scaling Solar E-Mobility & Storage

Solar PV Battery and Waste Management

The ISA programme on Solar PV Battery and Waste Management focuses on:

(a)The design of PV panels and batteries so that different materials can be easily stripped from the panel or battery, and can subsequently be recycled. This means that the panels and batteries are made so that the materials are “dismantable”. This implies standards for the design and manufacture of PV panels and batteries.

(b)Collection of waste material: user-friendly processes for the collection of PV panels and battery wastes are necessary to ensure that these wastes do not end up in landfills. Business models and/or regulations to enable the carting away of waste panels and batteries from user facilities become essential.

(c) Recycling of Solar & Battery Wastes: Technologies which can convert the waste panels and batteries into useful material in a physically and environmentally safe manner, is the key challenge. Recycling technologies are evolving continuously, as are their processing costs. The trade off between the materials that can be produced during recycling, and the separation costs associated with the production of different material, present a spectrum of choices for the recyclers and regulators. Consequently, the technologies, and their economics and evolution, is of importance to the solar sector as are the (regulatory) recycling requirements which may vary from country to country, and in some large countries from region to region.

(d)Reuse of recycled Material: The purity of the recycled materials largely determines the extent of reuse. Consequently, both the regulatory requirements for the quality of the recycled materials as well as the regulatory requirement for the minimum use of recycled material, both, determine the extent of reuse. The technology and economics of the manufacture of PV panels and batteries would need to be assessed on a continuous basis with a view to estimating the cost economics of reuse requirements.

It is clear that all of these steps (design, collection, recycling, and reuse) would add to the costs of PV cells and batteries. However, internalization of these costs is essential for the longer term sustainability of the energy system based on solar cells and batteries, but their minimization in both a policy and market goal. ISA will monitor the global trends on a regular basis, and also provide support to its member countries in designing appropriate policies for waste management, or for any of its components.