The introduction of solar modules in 2000, global solar installations have enjoyed an average annual growth rate of 42%. Due to the lifespan of solar modules, we can expect there to be a large number of older modules that need to be discarded in 2030.

However it is a challenge to properly process and recycle solar module components, which are tightly sealed together early in the module manufacturing process. Solar module redesign will be a major change for the industry as it marches toward the Net Zero future.

Approaching to Green More
Easy-Dismantled PV Module

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Traditional Module
Structure

PV modules include 65-75% of glass, 10-15% of aluminum frame, 10% of plastic, and 3-5% of crystalline silicon solar cell. 85% of these components can be recycled for reuse. However, conventional PV module manufacturing uses thermoset ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) or polyolefin (PO) encapsulation materials which tightly bonds the materials together, making individual component recycling and recovery extremely difficult. How to cleanly separate the components and individually recycle them is a significant task for various nations.

Easy Disassemble
PV Module Structure

The newly redesigned PV module can be easily dismantled and is weather resistant. This innovation incorporates characteristics such as melting point parameter design of the thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) material. It is ingeniously composed of the innovative thermoset and thermoplastic bi-layered compound encapsulation material. The designed low-temperature thermal process gradually decomposes the bi-layer film, by the time the solar modules becomes obsolete, the module can be easily dismantled into various parts.

The PV module dismantling process allows for the complete preservation of solar cells and the encapsulation glass. The cells can be restored to the bare silicon wafer via a reverse dismantling process, and then produced into regenerated cells for use in the manufacturing chain of PV modules. What is worth mentioning is that the thermoplastic material introduced for easy dismantlement can further enhance the weather-durability of the PV module, based on the high-water resistance and the feature of no EVA acid dissociation, thereby attaining a win-win situation.

Easy Disassemble PV Module
Manufacturing and Circulation Path

Based on the perspective of circular economy, the innovative bi-layered compound encapsulation material has enhanced the product lifespan. On the other hand, easy-dismantling recycling design allows the module to restore highly pure raw materials with ease after dismantlement, regenerating them to become raw materials for new modules. It provides a low carbon footprint solution for the future development of PV modules.

Reclaim Cell Easy-DismantledPV Module Easy Disassemble PV ModuleManufacturing and Circulation Path Silica Silicon Crystal Silicon Wafer Solar Cell TraditionalPV Module Civil & Horticultural Engineering / Steelmaking / Burying CO2 GHG Traditional Module Manufacturing and Recycling Path
Easy Disassemble PV ModuleManufacturing and Circulation Path Reclaim Cell Easy-DismantledPV Module Silicon Crystal Silicon Wafer Solar Cell TraditionalPV Module Civil & Horticultural Engineering / Steelmaking / Burying Traditional Module Manufacturing and Recycling Path CO2 GHG Silica

ITRI Redesign Creates
High Recycle Value

Commercial-use modules are traditionally processed through crushing and sorting, which can recover silicon-containing pellets, glass shards, plastic pellets and aluminum frames. Silicon-containing pellets can be used as metallurgical additives, the value of recycled silicon from waste modules is 50 million NT dollars per GW. Glass shards can be used in construction valuing at 10 million NT dollars per GW. Waste plastics are used as auxiliary fuel. Because silver is dispersed within the silicon-containing pellets and plastic pellets, it is too costly to extract and therefore not recycled.

Easy Disassemble PV Modules can undergo a tidier recycling process, the glass panel can be completely taken off and reused as recycled glass cover giving it a recycled value of 60 million NT dollars/GW,silicon solar wafers can also be reused as recycled silicon wafers or high-purity silicon material worth 670 million NT dollars/GW. In addition, because the solar wafers are intact, we can also extract the silver around the wafers worth 380 million NT dollars/GW. In terms of total recycling value, traditional modules can only generate 400 million NT dollars/GW (including aluminum frames) through crushing and sorting, but Easy Disassemble PV Modules can create recycling value as high as 1.6 billion NT dollars.

Environmental Impact Statistics

Easy Disassemble PV Modules can be entirely dismantled and recycled with the glass panels and solar cells intact. After cleaning, the recycled silicon wafers which meet the requirements of the solar industry can be returned to the solar module manufacturing industry for reuse. The graph below demonstrates the environmental impact comparison between recycled silicon wafers and virgin silicon wafers. Virgin silicon wafers are refined from silicon ore and undergoes multiple manufacturing processes, thus its environmental impact is relatively high. The carbon footprint (GHGs emissions) of recycled silicon wafers are only 17% of that of virgin silicon wafers, the particulate matter (PM2.5) generated is 6% of that of virgin silicon wafers, the resources and fossil fuels consumed in producing recycled silicon wafers are only 1% and 16% respectively of that of virgin silicon wafers.

Features of Easy Dismantling Module

Complete glass panels can be removed from the Easy Dismantling Module.

Complete solar cells can be recycled from the Easy PV Dismantling Module and repurposed into high-purity recycled silicon wafer.

The Easy Dismantling Module has a higher silver recycling rate.

2% increase in benefits, creating an additional 10 billion dollars per year for each GW.

Developed fluorine-free back sheet, high-efficiency and low-cost weather resistant modules enhances industry competitiveness and reduce recycling costs.

High-purity recycled silicon wafer can reduce CO2/GHG emissions by 83%.

Video Introduction

Approaching to Green More
Easy-Dismantled PV Module

The seminar is over. Watch playback videos

Time Presentation Speaker Video
16:00-16:10 Opening Remark Watch Video
16:10-16:25 PV recycling : status and innovative solutions Dr. Frank Lenzmann
Project Manager/ Energy Center Netherlands (ECN)
Watch Video
16:25-16:40 Future business opportunities on PV modules circular economy in Europe Dr. Luc Federzoni
Expert in innovation funding / French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA)
Watch Video
16:40-16:55 PV Redesign for Recycling and Circularity in ITRI, Taiwan Dr. Yi-Chun Liu
Material and Chemical Research Laboratories of Industrial Technology Research Institute
Watch Video
16:55-17:10 Composite Film for Easy-Dismantled PV Module’s Encapsulation Chris Wu
Project Manager / San Fang Chemical Industry Co., Ltd.
Watch Video
17:10-17:25 Productivity of Easy-dismantled PV Module in Taiwan James Chen
R&D Manager/ United Renewable Energy Co., Ltd.
Watch Video
17:25-17:35 QA

Contact information

Emerging Regions Collaboration Division Industry, Science and Technology International Strategy Center, Industrial Technology Research Institute.

Tang-Xi, Yu / Project Coordinator
tangxi@itri.org.tw

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