Recently the potential environmental hazard of photovoltaic modules together with their management as waste has attracted the attention of scientists. Particular concern is aroused by the several metals contained in photovoltaic panels whose potential release in the environment were scarcely investigated. Here, for the first time, the potential environmental hazard of panels produced in the last 30 years was investigated through the assessment of up to 18 releasable metals. Besides, the corresponding ecotoxicological effects were also evaluated. Experimental data were compared with the current European and Italian law limits for drinking water, discharge on soil and landfill inert disposal in order to understand the actual pollution load. Results showed that less than 3% of the samples respected all law limits and around 21% was not ecotoxic. By considering the technological evolutions in manufacturing, we have shown that during the years crystalline silicon panels have lower tendency to release hazardous metals with respect to thin film panels. In addition, a prediction of the amounts of lead, chromium, cadmium and nickel releasable from next photovoltaic waste was performed. The prevision up to 2050 showed high amounts of lead (30 t) and cadmium (2.9 t) releasable from crystalline and thin film panels respectively.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Engineering
- Environmental Chemistry
- Waste Management and Disposal
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis