Waste management firm Veolia has opened what it claims is Europe’s first facility dedicated to recycling solar panels in France.
The company signed a contract with solar recycling group PV Cycle France to recycle 1,300 tonnes of solar panels this year, a figure roughly similar to the entire volume that will be decommissioned across the country.
Many solar panels have lifespans of around 25 years, with the oldest models installed currently starting to reach the end-of-life stage.
The plant in Rousset uses robots to take panels apart and recover glass, silicon, plastics, copper and silver, all of which can be reused to create new panels – until now, much less of a panel was recyclable and old equipment was generally sent to normal waste facilities.
The new site is forecast to ramp up recycling to 4,000 tonnes of panels a year by 2022.
Gilles Carsuzaa, Head of Electronics Recycling at Veolia, said: “This is the first dedicated solar panel recycling plant in Europe, possibly in the world.”