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Tue Jan 31, 2012, 02:50 PM

Outdated Solar Panels Considered E-Waste By EU Parliament

PV modules are designed to last for 15 to 20 years, and the next 15 years, PV recycling will become an emerging market, according to a recently released report by Research and Markets. The report found that over the last decade there has been tremendous growth in the global solar PV market, growing from 1,459 MW of cumulative installed capacity in 2000 to 40,758 MW in 2010. That represents a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 40 percent.

The report also found that the waste generated by end-of-life modules in 2025 is expected to be approximately 24,855 tons, and increase to 1,161,176 tons by 2035. Crystalline modules will account for the majority of solar PV waste during that period with a predicted 19,475 tons of waste in 2025 and 1,098,282 tons by 2035.

In 2008, an analysis by a University of California-Berkeley researcher found that all the solar panels on the market contain toxic materials. The oldest type, crystalline PV, is made with lead. Newer thin film panels contain cadmium, which is fatal in large amounts, and has been linked to lung and kidney damage.

“It’s gene toxic and a mutagen, so it has the ability to affect DNA, meaning it could affect reproduction and future generations’ DNA,” Researcher Dustin Mulvaney said about cadmium.

http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/01/life-solar-panels-considered-waste-eu-parliament/

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Arrow 17 replies Author Time Post
Reply Outdated Solar Panels Considered E-Waste By EU Parliament (Original post)
phantom power Jan 2012 OP
FBaggins Jan 2012 #1
immoderate Jan 2012 #2
OKIsItJustMe Jan 2012 #4
XemaSab Jan 2012 #3
phantom power Feb 2012 #8
OKIsItJustMe Feb 2012 #9
phantom power Feb 2012 #11
OKIsItJustMe Feb 2012 #12
One_Life_To_Give Feb 2012 #13
OKIsItJustMe Feb 2012 #14
One_Life_To_Give Feb 2012 #15
OKIsItJustMe Feb 2012 #16
One_Life_To_Give Feb 2012 #17
OKIsItJustMe Jan 2012 #5
OKIsItJustMe Jan 2012 #6
OKIsItJustMe Jan 2012 #7
One_Life_To_Give Feb 2012 #10

Response to phantom power (Original post)

Tue Jan 31, 2012, 02:58 PM

1. 15-20 years?

That's interesting.

So when comparing costs to an alternative generation facility that lasts... Oh... Let's say 40-60 years, one should increase the price of solar by a factor of 2-4...

... Before accounting for inflation.

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 31, 2012, 03:40 PM

2. AFAIK, current estimates assume 30 years.

 

But actual tests I read about indicate useful life for as much as 100 years.

--imm

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Response to immoderate (Reply #2)

Tue Jan 31, 2012, 04:09 PM

4. A 25 year warranty is fairly common nowadays

http://www.google.com/search?q=25%20year%20solar%20panel%20guarantee

http://www.brightstarsolar.net/2010/06/life-expectancy-of-solar-photovoltaic-panels/
[font face=Times, Serif][font size=5]Life Expectancy of Solar Photovoltaic Panels[/font]

[font size=3]You’ve bought into the idea of generating electricity through solar means, so now what? Naturally, any homeowner or business interested in photovoltaic power wants to know how long these panels will actually last. Since solar modules have no moving parts, they actually can last a pretty long time. Typically, solar panel manufacturers issue a 20 or 25 year warranty on panels, but most installers say they can endure more than 40 years with proper care.

Andy Black, one of the leading solar financial analysis experts and instructor, recently published his report on the lifespan of solar panels. His analysis showed that the first solar panels manufactured about 40 years ago are still creating power at about 80% of their original power. From that study combined with his other analysis, he concluded that most solar panels will lose about a half percent a year in efficiency.

This new information should affect how homeowners and businesses analyze a solar investment. If you spread the investment over 30 years (or 40 years) rather than 20 years, the return on investment is much more substantial. Thereby, those who investment in solar power can feel more secure that they are making the right decision.

Although the solar array on your home will likely not be worth as much as new panels with the same wattage in 25 years, it should have paid itself off many times over and will still be producing free power for your home. There is no reason to buy new panels if the ones you already have are still producing enough power for your needs.[/font][/font]

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Response to phantom power (Original post)

Tue Jan 31, 2012, 04:01 PM

3. This shouldn't be a shocker to anyone

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Response to XemaSab (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 1, 2012, 08:21 AM

8. maybe, but I bet it is

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Response to phantom power (Reply #8)

Thu Feb 2, 2012, 11:26 AM

9. I’m sorry…

…but what exactly are we betting is (or is not) a shocker?

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #9)

Thu Feb 2, 2012, 03:03 PM

11. that PV is e-waste, involving carcinogens

well, at least that's what I *assumed*, and we all know what happens when you do that

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Response to phantom power (Reply #11)

Thu Feb 2, 2012, 05:23 PM

12. So, what you’re saying is…

…we shouldn’t just chuck ’em. (Isn’t this just common sense?)

Certainly the fact that they contain solder joints (and therefore lead) shouldn’t surprise anyone.

As I tried to show with my other postings however, I feel the “Triple Pundit” item hypes things significantly (e.g. the implication that panels only last 10-15 years.)

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #12)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 11:25 AM

13. Can't use lead in consumer products

With the exception of Heavy Industrial and Military Installations. I believe RoHS banned the use of Lead Solder in Panels sold in the EU, California and China. Which for many product areas has meant the complete elimination of Lead along with Heavy Metals etc. from global production. e.g. How do you prevent a Wireless Mouse from being ReSold into California?

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Response to One_Life_To_Give (Reply #13)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 12:11 PM

14. From the OP

In 2008, an analysis by a University of California-Berkeley researcher found that all the solar panels on the market contain toxic materials. The oldest type, crystalline PV, is made with lead. Newer thin film panels contain cadmium, which is fatal in large amounts, and has been linked to lung and kidney damage.


From the cited source:
http://www.greencollar.org/UserFiles/ads-media/12526955654aaa9e0d799db.pdf
Lead is often used in solar PV electronic circuits for wiring, solder-coated copper strips, and some lead-based printing pastes.

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #14)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 01:59 PM

15. RoHS Regulation (Directive 2002/95/EC)

http://www.rohs.eu/english/index.html

Member States shall ensure that, from 1 July 2006, new electrical and electronic equipment put on the market does not contain any of the six banned substances: lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, poly-brominated biphenyls (PBB) or polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), in quantities exceeding maximum concentration values.

Check out Article 4 Section 1 on the Legislation
link:http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2003:037:0019:0023:en:pdf|

And the authorized exemptions in the Annex. don't apply IMO
7. — Lead in high melting temperature type solders (i.e. tin-lead solder alloys containing more than 85 % lead),
— lead in solders for servers, storage and storage array systems (exemption granted until 2010),
— lead in solders for network infrastructure equipment for switching, signalling, transmission as well as network
management for telecommunication,
— lead in electronic ceramic parts (e.g. piezoelectronic devices).


The electronics industry bailed on Lead and the other restricted materials under this directive. With the exception of some military and space based systems. For which there was concern about the reliability of the Lead-Free Solder process. And in many cases one can no longer purchase IC's which are compatible with the Lead solder process.

edit: fixed link

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Response to One_Life_To_Give (Reply #15)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 03:11 PM

16. The panels being referred to by the OP predate 2006

The oldest type, crystalline PV…

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Reply #16)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 05:12 PM

17. Yet that would be Ex-post-facto

WEEE is a Directive of the European Parliament. Each member of the EU has a limited time in which to enact laws mandating compliance with the directive. The classification as "E Waste" under that directive has specific legal requirements placed upon each and every Manufacturer and Importer of PV panels within the EU. It may affect some PV panel designs sold in Europe as ones which cannot meet the 85% by weight recovery requirement will be effectively banned. As regards to Lead as today it is not legal to produce a PV Panel for consumer sale in Europe with it or the other named heavy metals present, it has no affect.

One of the items we have banned at my current employer as a result of WEEE is Glass in Plastics. It's a good stiffener but creates recycling problems. So we changed our case material to facilitate a higher recovery rate.

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Response to phantom power (Original post)

Tue Jan 31, 2012, 04:18 PM

5. “Tests show that 90% of existing solar panels last for 30 years, instead of the predicted 20 years.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8386460.stm
[font face=Times, Serif][font size=5]Solar panel costs 'set to fall'[/font]

By Roger Harrabin
Environment analyst, BBC News

[font size=4]The cost of installing and owning solar panels will fall even faster than expected according to new research.[/font]

[font size=3]Tests show that 90% of existing solar panels last for 30 years, instead of the predicted 20 years.



At a conference, the institute forecast that solar panels would be cost-competitive with energy from the grid for half the homes in Europe by 2020 - without a subsidy.

…[/font][/font]

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Response to phantom power (Original post)

Tue Jan 31, 2012, 04:24 PM

6. Hmmm…

The Triple Pundit item referenced this PV Magazine item:

http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/solar-modules-now-officially-regarded-as-e-waste--_100005611/
[font face=Times, Serif][font size=5]Solar modules now officially regarded as e-waste[/font]
30. January 2012 | By: Elke Kuehnle
[font size=3]The EU Parliament has officially changed the guidelines for its WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive. Under the amendments, used photovoltaic modules must now be collected and recycled.

Having found the commitment for the take back and recycling of photovoltaic modules by the solar industry too lax, the EU Parliament, on January 18, in Strasbourg, France, officially voted for the collection of 85 percent of all end-of-life photovoltaic modules in Europe. Meanwhile, 80 percent must be recycled. As such, modules are now included under the WEEE Directive’s category four (Consumer Equipment and Photovoltaic Panels).



The final photovoltaic module collection quota is still not clear, due to the fact that the amount of end-of-lifetime modules is anticipated to be very low over the next few years, and because the lifetime of modules typically extends to between 20 to 30 years. It is also still essential to differentiate between "collection rate" and "recycling rate".

…[/font][/font]

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Response to phantom power (Original post)

Tue Jan 31, 2012, 04:51 PM

7. Hmmm… (Again)

The Triple Pudit item refers to “an analysis by a University of California-Berkeley researcher”

http://www.greencollar.org/UserFiles/ads-media/12526955654aaa9e0d799db.pdf
[font face=Times, Serif]…

[font size=5]VII. Taking Action: What You Can Do[/font]



[font size=4]Consumers[/font]
[font size=3]
  • Contact legislators with your concerns. Tell them you strongly support the use of solar energy and want to make sure it is advanced in a safe and just manner.

  • Before purchasing solar panels, find out if the company will take back the solar panels after use and ensure responsible recycling. Also inquire whether the company actively supports legislation to require take-back programs and the use of responsible recyclers for the solar industry.

  • Although manufacturers should ultimately take responsibility for ensuring product safety, consumers need information about the toxic materials used in solar panels and about any potential hazards those materials pose to users (for example, in the case of residential fires).

  • When disposing of solar panels and other electronic products, be sure they are recycled in a responsible manner, without shipping waste overseas or using prison labor. For information about responsible e-waste recycling, visit the Electronics TakeBack Coalition website at: http://www.computertakeback.com/responsible_recycling/index.cfm

…[/font][/font]

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Response to phantom power (Original post)

Thu Feb 2, 2012, 12:13 PM

10. So manufacturers have to justify why they recycled less than 85% of production volumes at 15yr mark?

Including PV panels under the WEEE directive is a good thing. Better than the old panels ending up in landfills somewhere. Perhaps writing laws that prosecutes manufacturers for not having recycled enough of their total production after only 15-20yrs is a bit stiff. Although there is likely to be some verbage in the final country legislation which accounts for the possibility that the product life averages longer than the target.

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