Recycling is the default strategy today for decommissioned PV modules in Europe. However, in the next 10-15 years, it is estimated that up to 80% of the PV “waste” stream consists of products with premature failures (IRENA/IEA-PVPS, 2016), such as production defects or damages from transportation and installation, instead of products reaching the end of their designed technical life. CIRCUSOL partners estimate that about 2/3 of these PV modules can be repaired or refurbished. Therefore, about 50% of the PV “waste” can be diverted from the recycling path. In reality, the ratio is likely to be even higher since decommissioned functional PV modules currently also enter the “waste” stream.
Re-use, repair and refurbish remain rather informal in the PV industry today. These activities are currently performed by independent private companies, without any support from the original manufacturers. There is currently hardly any regulations or standards on the testing, certification and labelling.
CIRCUSOL wants to formalize the re-use, repair and refurbish value chains in the PV industry. The PV supply chain actors will collaborate and prepare for the first-of-a-kind extension of certification and labelling to second-life PV modules. The protocols will cover the performance, safety and reliability aspects. Credible certifications will be instrumental for trust-building and open up second-life markets. CIRCUSOL will also carry out in-depth application and market segment analysis for second-life PV modules, and facilitate market adoption with PSS models.