Solar Frontier announced that it has joined the European association PV Cycle. Founded in 2007, the Brussels-based interest group is developing an industry-wide, voluntary waste-management and recycling program for end-of-life photovoltaic modules. By joining PV Cycle, Solar Frontier reaffirms its responsibility for its CIS modules throughout their entire lifecycle, and its commitment to creating the world’s most economical and ecological solar energy solutions without using toxic materials like cadmium.
“Solar Frontier is dedicated to offering the most economical and ecological solar energy solutions in the world. As a leading manufacturer of CIS solar modules, it is only natural to think about what will happen to our products when they reach the end of their lifecycle. We look forward to taking part in the drive toward cleaner and more sustainable solar energy,“ said Wolfgang Lange, Managing Director of Solar Frontier Europe.
Photovoltaic panels contain material which can be recovered and reused once their modules reach the end of their life cycle. Industrial processes to recycle both crystalline silicon cells and thin-film modules are already established, and can retrieve substances like glass and aluminum, as well as semiconductor materials such as silicon, copper, indium, cadmium and tellurium. Recycling these materials means the amount of waste and energy needed to source raw materials can be reduced. This leads to lower production costs, a smaller ecological impact, and a more sustainable source of energy in the long-term.
Solar Frontier’s CIS technology has been developed to minimize the challenges of solar panel recycling, and encourages the industry to think more about how solar energy can become more environmentally-sustainable in the long-term. In addition, Solar Frontier’s parent company, Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K., has partnered with Kitakyushu City to build Japan’s first solar power system recycling facility. It will be co-developing new processes to recycle solar panels over the next five years. Showa Shell Sekiyu has been developing technologies for recycling solar modules since 2000 as part of its commitment to leadership in creating ecological solar energy solutions.
Through PV Cycle, the photovoltaic industry is working toward sustainable energy solutions that take all stages of the product life-cycle into consideratio--from raw material sourcing and production, to end-of-life collection and recycling. Members of PV Cycle aspire to build a voluntary collection and recycling network across Europe that will act as a frontrunner and example for other regions and industries.
End-of-life modules are still few compared to those that are operational, as the first noteworthy photovoltaic systems were installed in the early 1990s. The average photovoltaic module is expected to produce energy for over 25 years. PV Cycle intends to have its program in place by 2015, when a larger number of modules have to be replaced. To this end, PV Cycle currently supports research to minimize recycling costs and provides information for owners, installers and distributers of PV modules.
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