Making recyclable back-contact solar modules a reality

PARSEC is a Dutch RVO-funded research project that has brought together four key solar players with one common goal: to develop fully recyclable back-contact solar modules – and ultimately pave the way for greater uptake of this high power-density technology.

At Endurans we’re playing our part in the quest to Design for Recycling (D4R) through the development of a unique hot-melt encapsulant that enables everything from precious metals to glass and polymers to be re-used when the module reaches its end-of-life.

Today, the majority of polymeric components in solar modules (and the valuable materials captured within) are incinerated at end of life – at great financial and environmental cost. In the EU alone, some 4 000 tons of solar panels are dismantled  every year; and as solar energy gains further traction, that number will only increase.

One major obstacle to recovering high value, high-purity materials centers on the standard EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) encapsulant applied on the front and back side of solar cells in order to secure the contents. Because the cells and EVA are laminated in a vacuum, this makes the encapsulant physically inseparable from the module materials themselves – thus making their uncontaminated retrieval virtually impossible.

This is the challenge that Endurans and its peers have been attempting to help solve for several years now: first as part of a research program called PARSEC (where success was achieved using small prototype modules); and now as part of Project PANGEA – which aims to create a full-size recyclable back-contact solar module.


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