An overview is given of European environmental legislation which is
effective now or proposed and which
may have implications for the photovoltaic industry. The focus will
be on legislation, which has been implemented already
in national law, like the WEEE
electrical and electronic equipment)- and ROHS (restriction of the use of certain
hazardous substances)- directives. Photovoltaic modules are presently
excluded from the WEEE- and ROHS- directives, but
this situation may very well change in the future. As a common European
waste policy the producer will be responsible for
its end-of-life collection and "treatment" of his products. When PV
modules are included in the ROHS regulation, it will be
prohibited to put lead- or cadmium-containing modules on the EU-market,
above the regulatory limits for hazardous metal
contents. Therefore an overview is also given of repair, recovery and
recycling technologies for PV modules, design-forrecycling
concepts and the replacement of lead and cadmium.
A number of other proposals for future legislation may have an impact
on photovoltaic products as well. Among these are
Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), F-gases (regulation on certain fluorinated
greenhouse gases) and EuP
requirements for energy-using products).
A change of the module design, with the research, development, implementation
and certification necessary to be able to
produce photovoltaic systems that comply with such legislation, may
be very time-consuming and expensive. Therefore a
pro-active approach by the PV community is desirable.
Environmental life cycle thinking and eco-design is becoming increasingly
important as part of the European product and
waste policy and will have its impact on the PV industry as well. Design-for-recycling
must be encouraged to allow for
an easy, cost-effective disassembly, with a high retrieval of for instance
the precious crystalline silicon solar cells.
A closed production cycle, i.e. guaranteed take back system, would probably
prevent the commission as well as member
states to impose legislative measures.