German solar power and recycling companies have released a joint proposal for better integrating climate action and resource protection through a comprehensive recycling scheme for discarded solar panels. The “white paper” compiled together with NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH) sketches a path for Germany becoming a “frontrunner in the collection, reuse and high-quality recycling” of solar power installations with better collection procedures, eco-friendly panel design and “ambitious” recycling quotas. A better recycling of solar power installations would not only improve the environmental benefits of renewable power but also “strengthen Germany as a location for innovation,” the groups argued, calling on the environment ministry (BMU) to tighten electric waste regulation and on companies and municipalities to improve their management of discarded panels. “Now is the right time to focus on the handling of old PV modules. The success of solar power expansion in Germany should be followed by improvements in reuse and cutting-edge technology in recycling,” they said.
Germany has been leading worldwide solar power expansion for two decades and therefore will be among the first countries that have to deal with managing large quantities of solar power waste efficiently. At current rates, a pile of panel waste of more than two million tonnes will accrue by 2030, meaning that better recycling could ensure that vast amounts of valuable resources are recovered and the technology’s environmental impact is minimised.