Chile: "Creating technical and economic standards for the second life of photovoltaic panels is a public good"

Chile: "Creating technical and economic standards for the second life of photovoltaic panels is a public good"


Chile has ample potential to develop renewable energy due to its favorable geological and climatic characteristics in the north of the country. This has been evidenced by the increase in the participation of this type of generation in the electricity system, which rose to 28% in recent years[1]. This not only helps diversify energy generation sources, but also allows a transition towards clean energy that will help decarbonize the energy matrix.

The exponential growth of solar generation systems in Chile in 2020 alone accounts for 12 million solar panels already installed and, according to a study requested by the Ministry of Energy, this figure is expected to increase beyond 160 million by 2050. Considering that the first industrial photovoltaic generation system was installed in 2012 and that the average operating time of the modules varies between 20-30 years, projections for 2043-2046 indicate that PV waste could exceed 120,000 tons and treatment methods are not yet established in the country.

A question then arises: what opportunities are there for the modules, both for second uses and for the valorization of their raw materials?  

This is a major challenge for sustainability, but also an opportunity to deliver solutions based on the circular economy, to extend the useful life of the modules, to facilitate reuse in secondary markets and the recovery of critical materials for the energy transition.

To move forward with this challenge, Chile is developing a project called "The Public Good: the creation of technical and economic standards to enable the second life of photovoltaic modules", commissioned by the Undersecretary of Energy and led by the Universidad de Antofagasta. This public-private initiative has brought together institutional experts, national and international academics, non-governmental organizations and power companies in four discussion groups:

  • Panel I: testing protocol.
  • Panel II: uses for second life modules.
  • Panel III: recycling and recovery of photovoltaic panels.
  • Panel IV: regulatory barriers.

The Public Good project aims to review and validate testing protocols for second life options, identify the state of the art regarding second uses of functional and non-functional modules, raise regulatory barriers and evaluate methodologies for the recovery of components within the framework of the circular economy and the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Law 20.920.

If you want to know more about the results of these roundtable discussions, register and participate in the second working session on July 14, where the current international situation in terms of the development and implementation of standards to enable the second life of photovoltaic modules will be discussed.

Friday, July 14th
Working Session 2: What is the current status of the international discussion for the creation of standards?

[1] Ministry of Energy. Long Term Energy Planning Period 2023-2027. Santiago, Chile.