Recyclia to manage 100 tonnes of waste solar PV modules in 2016

Recyclia expects to mange almost 100 tonnes of waste photovoltaic modules in 2016, through the Ecoasimelec Foundation. This represents almost 100% of all waste PV modules generated. Recyclia has becomes the leader in this emerging market, following a cooperation agreement entered into in 2013 with PV Cycle, the association which manages photovoltaic module recycling throughout Europe and represents over 90% of the manufacturers and importers.

Indeed, the leading manufacturers of photovoltaic modules are in the process of becoming members of Recyclia and the foundation now has the necessary infrastructure in place for the collection and recycling of this equipment. It currently has treatment plants in Seville, Valencia, Bilbao and Barcelona, and these facilities are fitted with state-of-the-art equipment.

According to Recyclia and PV Cycle figures, Spain is currently third in Europe in terms of PV module management capacity. Between 2010 and 2015, Spain managed over a thousand tonnes of this waste (1,037), behind only Germany (7,740) and Italy(2,077). The total figure for Europe was 13,881 t.

By the end of 2016, the total worldwide stream of waste photovoltaic modules will exceed 43,000 t, just over 0.1% of the total number of modules installed. Spain will have a total of 100,000 t of photovoltaic modules installed by the end of 2016. These units have a service life of between 20 and 25 years. The country will generate a total of 100 t of waste PV modules according to a report published this year by the  International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

According to the International Energy Agency, Spain was the 8th country in the world in terms of solar PV capacity, with a total of 5.44 GW, 2.43% of the 222 GW installed worldwide. With this capacity, our country produces 3% of total national electricity output at an estimated total of 65,000 facilities.

Current legislation

Recycling of photovoltaic modules became compulsory in Spain with the ratification of Royal Decree 110/2015, which transposes the 2012 Directive on the correct management of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).

The legislation includes solar photovoltaic modules for the first time and makes producers and importers responsible for the organisation and funding of collection and recycling at the end of their service life, in line with the principle of Extended Producer Responsibility. The producer is responsible for the treatment of panels that are replaced by others, in accordance with what is known in the electronic recycling sector as the “one for one” rule.

As in the case of other WEEE categories, the Royal Decree sets out the obligation to collect 45% of the average weight of photovoltaic modules placed on the market in the preceding three years, as and from 2016.

According to José Pérez, CEO at Recyclia, “as is the case with other electronic equipment, responsible management of solar PV modules, apart from being obligatory, also generates important socioeconomic and environmental benefits. In this regard, Spain has the necessary infrastructure to undertake this recycling, which, allied to Recyclia’s logistics model, places us amongst the most advanced countries in the world in terms of efficiency and responsibility”.