Economic Feasibility of Recycling Photovoltaic Modules: Survey and Model
Journal of Industrial Ecology
The market for photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation has boomed over the last decade, and its expansion is expected to continue with the development of new technologies. Taking into consideration the usage of valuable resources and the generation of emissions in the life cycle of photovoltaic technologies dictates proactive planning for a sound PV recycling infrastructure to ensure its sustainability. PV is expected to be a “green” technology, and properly planning for recycling will offer the opportunity to make it a “double-green” technology—that is, enhancing life cycle environmental quality. In addition, economic feasibility and a sufficient level of value-added opportunity must be ensured, to stimulate a recycling industry. In this article, we survey mathematical models of the infrastructure of recycling processes of other products and identify the challenges for setting up an efficient one for PV. Then we present an operational model for an actual recycling process of a thin-film PV technology. We found that for the case examined with our model, some of the scenarios indicate profitable recycling, whereas in other scenarios it is unprofitable. Scenario SC4, which represents the most favorable scenario by considering the lower bounds of all costs and the upper bound of all revenues, produces a monthly profit of $107,000, whereas the least favorable scenario incurs a monthly loss of $151,000. Our intent is to extend the model as a foundation for developing a framework for building a generalized model for current-PV and future-PV technologies.
Copyright © 2010, John Wiley & Sons
John Wiley & Sons
Choi, Jun-Ki and Fthenakis, Vasilis, "Economic Feasibility of Recycling Photovoltaic Modules: Survey and Model" (2010). Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Faculty Publications. 221.