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PV waste market ‘flourishing’ in most of Europe

Europe – While the European market for new photovoltaic (PV) solar module installations declined from 17.6 GW in 2012 to approximately 10 GW in 2013, the PV waste market ‘flourished’, according to Pia Alina Lange of collection scheme PV Cycle. Around 90% of the European PV market is said to adhere to sustainable waste management.

The commitment to recycling enabled PV Cycle to collect over 3000 tonnes of damaged or end-of-life PV modules from 18 countries in 2013 – or 50% more countries than in the previous year. And yet Bulgaria and the UK were the only EU countries to introduce the necessary WEEE Directive legislation before the January 1 2014 deadline.

PV Cycle also applauds the ‘effective’ PV-oriented collaboration in the Czech Republic with leading national e-scrap scheme RETELA to boost take-back and recycling compliance. Alina points out that older WEEE requirements in the Czech Republic already required owners of PV modules (produced after 2013) to ensure take-back and recycling at end-of-life.

Romania is said to be the fourth largest PV market in the EU, with a capacity of 1.1 GW whereas the PV markets in Hungary, Poland and Turkey remain ‘relatively under-developed’. The same could be said of their PV recycling sectors as these nations have failed to implement any PV take-back regulations, just like Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

At the beginning of this year, the Hungarian government imposed an import tax of nearly 50 US cents per kg on solar panels. This widely-criticised move was said to be ‘necessary on environmental grounds’ as the funds will cover the cost of disposing of the panels.

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