ECN publication
Implications European Environmental Legislation for Photovoltaic Systems
Wild - Scholten, M.J. de; Wambach, K.; Alsema, E.A.; Jager-Waldau, A.
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Solar Energy 1-6-2005
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-RX--05-014 Conference Paper
Number of pages: Full text:
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Presented at: 20th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition, Barcelona, Spain, 6-10 juni 2005.


An overview is given of European environmental legislation which is effective now or proposed and which

may have implications for the photovoltaic industry. The focus will be on legislation, which has been implemented already

in national law, like the WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment)- and ROHS (restriction of the use of certain

hazardous substances)- directives. Photovoltaic modules are presently excluded from the WEEE- and ROHS- directives, but

this situation may very well change in the future. As a common European waste policy the producer will be responsible for

its end-of-life collection and "treatment" of his products. When PV modules are included in the ROHS regulation, it will be

prohibited to put lead- or cadmium-containing modules on the EU-market, above the regulatory limits for hazardous metal

contents. Therefore an overview is also given of repair, recovery and recycling technologies for PV modules, design-forrecycling

concepts and the replacement of lead and cadmium.

A number of other proposals for future legislation may have an impact on photovoltaic products as well. Among these are

Reach (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), F-gases (regulation on certain fluorinated

greenhouse gases) and EuP (eco-design requirements for energy-using products).

A change of the module design, with the research, development, implementation and certification necessary to be able to

produce photovoltaic systems that comply with such legislation, may be very time-consuming and expensive. Therefore a

pro-active approach by the PV community is desirable.

Environmental life cycle thinking and eco-design is becoming increasingly important as part of the European product and

waste policy and will have its impact on the PV industry as well. Design-for-recycling must be encouraged to allow for

an easy, cost-effective disassembly, with a high retrieval of for instance the precious crystalline silicon solar cells.

A closed production cycle, i.e. guaranteed take back system, would probably prevent the commission as well as member

states to impose legislative measures.

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