After two years, together with the Fraunhofer IWKS and its project partners DKE and VDE, we have successfully concluded the research project “ReSi-Norm – Standardization of recycling processes for silicon solar modules“.

During the project, different processes for recycling PV modules were evaluated, compared and tested. In principle, a differentiation is made between mechanical, thermal and chemical recycling processes. All three processes have both advantages and disadvantages. Standards and norms are intended to act as guidelines for future recycling activities to be able, nevertheless, to exploit the full potential of PV recycling. Here not only the recycling technology was considered, but also the removal, transport and collection of waste PV modules.

A working group under the leadership of the VDE has prepared a standard addressing the requirements on the recycling of crystalline silicon solar modules. The essential elements include the following points:

  • Removal and sorting for possible reuse as a used unit,
  • Collection, logistics and transport as a waste unit,
  • Handling, preparation for reuse, recycling and processing of waste modules.

The standard is part of the VDE 0042-13 range which addresses the collection, logistics and handling of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE directive). The publication of the code of practice is planned for the beginning of 2024.



Fraunhofer Research Institution for Materials Recycling and Resource Strategies IWKS

VDE Renewables

DKE German Commission for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies of DIN and VDE

Hensel Recycling GmbH



Solar energy is playing a major role in the renewable energy mix not only in Germany, but also world-wide. By 2030 the International Renewable Energy Agency IRENA expects up to 2,840 gigawatts of installed solar energy capacity. According to a study by the Fraunhofer ISE, there were already approximately 54 gigawatts of solar capacity installed in Germany at the end of 2020 – that corresponds to two million installations. Even though the service life of solar modules is very long and they remain in operation for up to 30 years, at some point they must be disposed of and, in the best case, recycled.