Influence of waste management on the environmental footprint of electricity produced by photovoltaic systems
PV waste management will gain relevance proportionally to the amounts of waste that are expected to arise with the phasing-out of old installations in the upcoming years and decades. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology is used here to analyze the environmental performance of photovoltaic systems and the waste management methods that have been developed recently. Several LCA studies have already been performed for PV technologies, but in most cases these do not include the end of life stage, thus there is still uncertainty about the impacts of recycling on the environmental footprint of PV electricity. The present study offers a more detailed analysis of different end-of-life approaches for the main photovoltaic technologies that are found on the market. The results from the analysis demonstrate that recycling has the potential to improve the environmental profile of PV electricity but at the same time there is room for further improvements in developing dedicate d recycling technologies.