Photovoltaic waste assessment: forecasting and screening of emerging waste in Australia

Sajjad Mahmoudi, Nazmul Huda, Masud Behnia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Australia has to meet the challenges of End-of-Life treatment of photovoltaic modules in coming years due to rapid growth of photovoltaic capacity during the last decades. This paper contributes towards the sustainable management of decommissioned solar panels through the estimation of PV waste flow between the years 2031–2047 based on the actual installation of the PV modules from 2001 to 2018, and the provision of a forecasting model applying on four major scenarios to project the waste generated from 2048–2060. Assuming three forecasting schemes, and consistent annual-growth-rate of PV installation for each scenario, the future PV waste was quantified. Considering the PV installation from 2001 to 2018, the cumulative waste is estimated to be 0.8 million tonnes until 2047. The mainstream of the waste is estimated to be glass and aluminium with 541,209 and 116,483 tonnes respectively, followed by 8375 tonnes of copper and 71,329 tonnes of steel. The PV waste includes various valuable substances which, if appropriately recycled, can bring significant economic benefit. With regards to all PV penetration scenarios in the electricity generation market until 2030, Australia is estimated to face around 1–8 million tonnes of decommissioned PV until 2060. The recovery of the EoL PV raw materials can lead to value creation of nearly 1.2 billion dollars. These findings can shed light on the possibility of a circular economy and suggest an active contribution of all parties and a very well-planned coordinated approach prevent the potential environmental impacts and maximize resource efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-205
Number of pages14
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Volume146
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

Keywords

  • EoL PV modules
  • PV waste management
  • Forecasting
  • Recycling
  • Circular economy

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