Technological watch

Recent progress in silicon photovoltaic module recycling processes

The rapid deployment of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology around the world brings the ineluctable problem of disposing of and recycling decommissioned solar photovoltaic modules. Recycling will become an essential sector in the value chain of the PV industry. This paper reviews the progress in silicon photovoltaic module recycling processes, from lab-scale and pilot-scale research in order to compare mechanisms, ascertain feasible approaches, recycling yields, equipment, costs, and improvement areas for different recycling processes. Trends, gaps, and outlooks are drawn to guide future R&D. Recycling processes have evolved from mass recovery to value recovery and now full recovery. Selective delamination and automated material sorting are key enablers of high recycling yield. So far, most recycling research focuses on recovering materials, however, it is equally important to explore secondary markets and end-use applications of recovered materials, especially for glass, and polymers. To implement sustainable end-of-life recycling at a large scale, technological feasibility, economic viability, and social desirability need to be addressed altogether by innovative recycling technologies.

Publication date: 01/12/2022

Author: Rong Deng, Yuting Zhuo, Yansong Shen

Resources, Conservation and Recycling


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 1914.