DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.com PLC.
Andreas Wade is First Solar’s global director of sustainability. First Solar is a partner of EURACTIV’s forthcoming event on Energy transition in France – What to expect from the new government? on 5 October in Paris.
The idea of a Circular Economy isn’t a novelty in Europe anymore. The construction sector, for instance, recently announced that the recycling of gypsum plates will be a focus area, as the amount of plaster waste increases.Similarly, a recent study found that the steel recycling industry will play a major role in the transition to a circular economy – the reuse of scrap metal will not only save energy and greenhouse gases, but will also create a much-needed competitive advantage for countries that develop a strong steel recycling industry.
But what about the photovoltaic (PV) solar industry? Isn’t solar already inherently sustainable? While solar energy offers a sustainable – and economic – alternative to electricity generated from fossil fuels, the industry is relatively young.
This means that the volume of panels that have reached the end of their operational lives isn’t as high as it will be in a few years.
The International Renewable Energy Agency estimates that just five countries – China, the United States, Japan, India, and Germany – will generate between 60 and 78 million tonnes of waste from PV panels by 2050.