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France Opens Europe's First Solar Panel Recycling Plant
- Jul 03, 2018 -

According to reports, the French water and waste organization Veolia has opened the first solar panel recycling plant in Europe. Because thousands of tons of aging solar panels will reach their life expectancy in the next few years, the company plans to build more recycling plants.


Rousset's new plant in southern France has reached a contract with the solar industry recycling organization PV Cycle France to recover 1300 tons of solar panels in 2018, and almost all solar panels will reach their life in France this year and will increase to 4000 tons in 2022.


"This is the first special solar panel recycling plant in Europe, and it may be possible to set up other branches around the world in the future," said the head of Veolia electronic recycling.


So far, aging or broken solar panels are usually recycled in general glass recycling facilities, of which only glass and aluminum frames are recycled, and their special glass is mixed with other glass. The rest is usually burned in a cement furnace.


In the study of solar panel recycling in 2016, the International Renewable Energy Agency said it was worth the long term to build a special photovoltaic cell recycling plant. The agency estimates that the value of recycled materials may reach US $450 million by 2030, and will exceed US $15 billion by 2050.

Veolia robots in the new plant break the panels into glass, silicon, plastic, copper and silver and crush them into particles that can be used to make new panels.


The typical crystalline silicon solar panels are made of sixty five to five percent of glass, 10 to 15% aluminum frame, 10% plastic and 3-5% silicon. The new factory does not recycle thin-film solar panels, which account for only a small part of the French market.

Veolia said its goal is to recycle all retired PV panels in France, and hopes to use this experience to build similar recycling plants abroad.