So what happens when a solar panel stops working? A new EU funded project recently developed a device called PV-MOREDE (Photovoltaic panels Mobile Recycling Device) – especially for recycling solar panels through innovative and environmentally friendly technologies.

An innovative alternative

During the past 25 years there has been a rapid expansion in the use of photovoltaic (PV) systems in Europe; and there is no sign that this growth is slowing. Early PV systems are now coming to the end of their working lives – a big disposal challenge that will increase in the coming years. The current process for recycling photovoltaic panels uses thermal and chemical technologies, with disadvantages such as cost, sustainability and portability. PV-MOREDE instead provides a cheaper, effective and innovative alternative.

A sustainable way of recycling

The PV MOREDE mobile device was developed by La Mia Energia S.c.a.r.l., an Italian consortium founded by a group of SMEs in 2009. The device aims at renewing the recycling of photovoltaic panels. It is able to recover energy and raw materials from PV panels, such as aluminium, glass and copper; and reuse these materials in new manufacturing processes i.e. production of glass bottles.

What makes PV MOREDE unique?

Mobility enables the PV MOREDE device to treat panels right where they are located. Its complete portability, then, reduces the distance between the collection and the recycling sites; and it employs mechanical processes, instead of thermal and chemical ones. This improves the recovery of PV panels by lowering its cost and environmental impact when reducing CO2 emissions, waste production and energy consumption.

To find out more, check the project’s website and the consortium’s website.

Further developments
The project was funded through the CIP Eco-Innovation programme which ran until 2013. The company sold its first device in summer 2017. This was done in line with its business plan that envisaged selling two devices in Europe in 2017. For a market share of 4%, the estimated revenues are about 179.000 euro. The business model considers the rental/lease of the device as well.
To search for partnership and further business development opportunities in your country, contact the Enterprise Europe Network.
Source: EC EASME