French agency warns against unchecked reuse of secondhand solar modules

Soren, the French environmental agency, has warned that uninstalled panels are often resold or exported through loosely regulated reuse channels, especially to developing countries.

From pv magazine France

French environmental agency Soren, which is responsible for collecting and recycling solar panels in France, recovered 5,207 tons of solar modules in 2023, up 35% from 3,848 tons collected in 2022.

Nicolas Defrenne, the general director of the eco-organization, said during a recent press conference that of the 5,207 tons collected, 4,431 tons originated from mainland France, with 1,661 tons in Occitanie, and 775 tons from overseas territories. In addition, 4,804 tons were collected on site, while 403 tons were brought to a voluntary collection point.

Defrenne said that 3,286 tons (90%) of the total amount of processed solar panels (3,631 tons) were recycled. The remaining portion was either landfilled (8.87%) or reused (0.64%). However, Defrenne noted that “40% of the panels uninstalled in France escape us because they are given, resold, or exported via more or less controlled reuse channels, particularly to developing countries.”

Soren acknowledges the significance of advancing the second life of PV modules and collaborates with Envie on a reuse line. Despite this, the eco-organization notes the risks associated with illegal sectors.

The organization is calling for the establishment of certification, including technical tests like electrical insulation and electroluminescence, similar to what French startup Solreed is pursuing with used solar panel requalification and recertification. It is also pushing for a €3 million ($3.2 million) reuse fund from 2023 to 2027.

The activity report indicates that 320,000 tons of solar panels entered the market in 2023.

This post appeared first on PV Magazine.

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