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PHOTORAMA at Sustainable Solar Europe 2023

The PHOTORAMA team is proud to have participated in three engaging sessions at the 2023 edition of Sustainable Solar Europe, which took place in Brussels on 7 December 2023. 

Sustainable Solar Europe is a crucial event for solar energy providing a broad view of different aspects of sustainability in the solar PV sector by bringing together a variety of stakeholders: industry players, academics, policymakers, and other interested actors. Sustainable Solar was organised by Solarpower Europe, with PHOTORAMA co-organising the following two sessions:

The first session, “The Role of Innovation in Shaping a Sustainable Solar Industry,” discussed how European innovation shapes sustainable PV technologies, contributing to the solar industry’s future.

It brought together representatives from five EU-funded research and innovation projects – RESiLEX, TRUSTPV, CIRCUSOL, ICARUS and of course PHOTORAMA.  Together, we discussed how to enhance sustainability in the solar industry by recycling silicon from old PV panels, improving the performance and reliability of solar PV components, developing circular business models for the industry, and transforming waste streams into secondary raw materials. The session outlined how EU projects fit into the larger picture of creating a more sustainable and efficient solar industry in Europe. The session covered the following topics:

  • The importance of innovation in shaping a sustainable solar industry
  • Challenges and opportunities that arise with developing sustainable
    solar technologies
  • The role of collaboration and cross-sectoral partnerships in advancing
    sustainable solutions for the solar industry

Find an information flyer on these five EU funded projects, which are all working on advancing PV circularity in Europe for download here.

The session has been moderated by Hanna Dittmar of Solarpower Europe. Speakers included Claire Agraffeil, PHOTORAMA Project Coordinator, CEA; Daniela Ariolli, Sustainability and Circular Economy Specialist, BayWa r.e., for the TRUST-PV project; Francisco J. Luque, RESiLEX Project Coordinator, ISMC; Yijiang Xu, Research Scientist, SINTEF Industry, for the ICARUS project; and Tom Rommens, CIRCUSOL project coordinator, VITO.

The second session, titled “Creating a Sustainable and Circular Solar Industry,” highlighted the importance of creating a sustainable and circular solar industry in Europe, with a particular focus on restoring the value chain for PV. With the increasing demand for renewable energy sources, the session emphasized considering the entire life cycle of PV systems, from raw material extraction to end-of-life management.

The session has been moderated by Manfred Spiesberger of the Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI), representing the PHOTORAMA project. Anna Sobczak of the European Commission provided the policy frame for the session with an overview of the EU’s updated Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan). One of its goals is to deliver on a joint solar energy strategic R&I agenda. The following presentation by Claire Agraffeil, PHOTORAMA Project Coordinator gave on overview of the state of PV recycling in Europe. She outlined the increase in PV waste collected and the recent uptake in scientific publications on this topic, and gave some examples of recyclers (e.g. LuxChemTech, Germany) and their technologies. Arvid van der Heide, Researcher PV Modules at IMEC discussed then re-use of PV modules. He presented some examples of re-use and approaches for testing used modules. Yun Luo, Chief Executive Officer at Rosi Solar provided an overview of its approach and technologies to PV recycling. Finally, Alexis Barrou, R&D Engineer at CSEM discussed challenges for supply chains related to PV recycling.

In addition to these two sessions co-organised by PHOTORAMA, our partner Nicolas Defrenne of SOREN participated in the session, “Sustainable End-of-life Solutions for Solar Products“.

This session explored the unique features of solar technologies at their end-of-life stage by focusing on the latest developments across end-of-life practices for solar, including recycling, reuse, and repowering, from the perspective of different stakeholders in the sector. Nicolas outlined SOREN’s efforts for creating a label for re-use of PV panels, through testing of modules with visual inspection, power measurement and isolation tests. The session was moderated by David Moser of EURAC, and speakers besides Nicolas included Maria Banti, Policy Officer at the European Commission; and Kahya Engler, Technical Lead M&A – Strategy, Sunrock.