Environmental impacts and economic feasibility of end of life photovoltaic panels in Australia: a comprehensive assessment

Sajjad Mahmoudi, Nazmul Huda*, Masud Behnia

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The severe challenges of the end-of-life management of photovoltaic panels are predicted to enter its critical stage in Australia from the early 2030s owing to the wide-reaching deployment of PV panels in the past two decades. There appears to be a lack of holistic strategy concerning the environmental impacts of disposal scenarios and also enacting of comprehensive local policy and regulations. As a way forward in the promotion of the sustainable management of this complex waste flow, this study performed an inclusive life cycle assessment utilizing SimaPro 9.0.029, and an economic feasibility analysis employing the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) method for various scenarios. The performed LCA in this paper highlighted the environmental burden and credit responsibilities of an industrial scale treatment procedure proposed for Australia. Findings from the analysis indicated that the domestic treatment of EoL PV module is feasible and includes high-profit margins while making a considerable reduction on environmental burdens and resource losses. The outcome of the economic feasibility assessment has shown some promising numbers for 20,000 tonnes per year of annual PV waste flow. Hence, the variation of the critical economic factors could not affect the feasibility of the treatment pathway. However, the plant with a yearly capacity of 10,000 tonnes EoL PV panels did not show profitability at any condition unless the Australian government considers a special tax-exemption during the loan lifetime. Finally, this study illuminates toward the sustainable management of EoL PV panels and circular economy pathway by providing useful concrete evidence to the decision-makers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number120996
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Volume260
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • End-of-life photovoltaic
  • End-of-life PV module
  • LCA
  • Waste management
  • Cost-effective analysis
  • techno-economic analysis

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