Chile: "A Public Good for generating technical and economic standards for photovoltaic panels' second life."

Published on Wednesday, 12 July 2023

Chile's northern territory has ample potential to develop renewable energies due to its favorable geological and climatic characteristics, with an increased participation of this generation type in the electricity system, rising to 28% in recent years. The latter contributes to diversifying generation sources and allows a transition towards clean energies contributing to the energy matrix decarbonization.

The exponential growth of solar generation plants in Chile only in 2020 accounts for 12 million installed solar panels, and according to a Ministry of Energy study, the number is expected to increase to over 160 million by 2050. The first industrial photovoltaic generation plant's installation was in 2012, and the modules' average operating time varies between 20-30 years. Projections for 2043-2046 show that photovoltaic waste could exceed 120,000 tons, and the country still needs to establish treatment methods.

The question then arises: What opportunities are there for the modules for second uses and valorizing their raw materials?

It is a significant challenge for sustainability and an opportunity to deliver solutions based on a circular economy to extend the module's useful life, facilitate reuse in secondary markets, or recover critical materials for the energy transition.

·       Chile is developing a project called "Public Good: Generation of Technical and Economic Standards to Enable the 2nd life of photovoltaic modules", mandated by the Undersecretary of Energy and led by the Universidad de Antofagasta. This public-private initiative has brought together experts from institutions, national and international academia, non-governmental organizations, and generating companies in four working groups to address this conversation:

·       Table I: Test protocol

·       Table II: Uses for second life modules

·       Table III: Recycling and recovery of PV panels

·       Table IV: Regulatory barriers

The public good aims to review and validate test protocols for a second life, identify state of the art regarding second uses of functional and non-functional modules, raise regulatory barriers, and evaluate methodologies for component recovery within a circular economy framework and the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Law Nº20.920.

If you want to know more about these roundtables' results, register and take part in the second working session on July 14 with discussions on the current international scenario for developing and implementing standards to enable the second life of photovoltaic modules.

Friday, July 14

What is the international discussion on standards generation?

Working Session 2: What is the international discussion on the generation of standards?