University of Limerick
Schünemann et al_2021_Recycle or Reuse A life cycle assessment based.pdf (252.72 kB)

Recycle or reuse? A life-cycle-assessment-based model to evaluate end-of-life decisions for photovoltaic panels

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conference contribution
posted on 2021-06-17, 16:52 authored by Jaron Schünemann, Sebastian Finke, Semih Severengiz, Hayden Forrister
This paper aims to assess the environmental and economic impact when it comes to the presumed end of life for solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. A recycling option is compared to the reuse of the PV panels in the two impact categories: costs for the consideration of economic feasibility and global warming potential (GWP 100) for the consideration of the environmental impact. The evaluation is carried out with a parametric life-cycle-assessment-based model that was designed to be adaptable for evaluating different scenarios by changing the parameters to fit the given cost structure or climate zone in which the panels are being used. The recycling option involves market-established methods for recycling the old panels and replacing them with new ones. The reuse case involves testing and reusing the old panels, taking a certain rejection rate into account. The most significant parameters for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions are the rejection rate, the solar radiation and thus the capacity utilization as well as the expected lifetime of the newly manufactured panels and their greenhouse gas emissions during production. The results indicate that in most cases greenhouse gas emissions can be saved compared to the recycling option. The costs for reuse compared to recycling depend on the rejection rate and the expected lifetime for both the panels, that can be reused and the new panels. The comparison of the costs for reuse and recycling contains some uncertainties since the testing of panels has yet to be commercially established and automized. The model developed in this paper allows for the holistic evaluation of individual reuse and recycling scenarios. The results can thus be used to determine decision-making for better economic and environmental outcomes.



4th PLATE 2021 Virtual Conference, 26-28 May 2021;



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Gesellschaft der Förderer der Hochschule Bochum e.V.



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