End-of-life photovoltaic modules: A systematic quantitative literature review

Sajjad Mahmoudi, Nazmul Huda, Zahraossadat Alavi, Md Tasbirul Islam, Masud Behnia (2019). “End-of-life photovoltaic modules: A systematic quantitative literature review.” Resources, Conservation, and Recycling 146, 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2019.03.018

Abstract: PV modules which are installed worldwide have a defined lifetime for useful service after which the panels become End-of-Life (EoL) products. An enormous amount of obsolete solar PV modules will be added to the waste stream in the near future. Hence, the EoL photovoltaic waste stream could cause an appalling problem in the future if a holistic management strategy is not considered. Despite the vast research on photovoltaic technology, little is known about the perspective of how the EoL PV modules will be handled. The current study systematically investigates global research on EoL PV modules to identify gaps for further exploration. The review reveals that most of the research concentrates on the recovery and recycling of PV panels. Also, the vast majority of the research is mostly carried out in laboratory-scale. The geographical distribution of the studies was concentrated on 15 countries including the USA, Italy, and Taiwan, the latter of which has produced the most publications. Life-cycle-assessment and reverse logistics (RL) are two critical aspects of PV waste management and have only recently received attention from researchers, with 11 and six papers respectively. There are still many countries which have not attempted to forecast their EoL solar-panel waste stream and develop recycling infrastructure. Based on review findings, the future research must be focused on forecasting the PV waste streams, development of recycling technologies, reverse logistics and the policies of individual PV consumer countries. Finally, this study develops a foundation for future research on Photovoltaic waste management to build upon.


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