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Sustainability evaluation of solar energy systems (SENSE)


The consortium has developed recycling processes for thin-film solar modules. It is distinguished between processes which can generally be used and others which are specific for the individual types of modules (CIS, CdTe and a-Si). The processes are developed on a prototypical level and require further refining and adaptation to industrial environment after the end of the project. The recycling steps include mechanical separation of components of the modules, screening, thermal treatment and chemical processes for dissolution and re-winning of valuable and rare constituents such as indium and gallium.
The result is of scientific nature. The LCA consists of the goal definition and scoping, the inventory analysis, the impact assessment and the improvement assessment. The LCA is performed for the three types of thin-film solar modules considered in the project. The LCA is important for the optimisation of the products and the production lines in terms of energy consumption, environmental impact, material consumption. It is also useful for comparing the environmental impacts of this type of modules with other PV modules and also other sources of regenerative or fossile energy. It is the first LCA of thin-film solar modules which is based on data coming fom real production lines and is therefore much more reliable than former LCA. It also comprises data on recycling processes and thus helps to decide about the introduction of recycling from the environmental point of view.

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