Efficient decommissioning and recycling of polymer solar cells: justification for use of silver
Large 100 m long polymer solar cell modules were installed in a solar park using fast installation (>100 m min−1) and operated for 5 months ensuring a meaningful energy return factor (ERF > 1) followed by fast de-installation (>200 m min−1) and end-of-life management. Focus was on recovery of silver that is an essential component of the two electrodes. We employed life cycle analysis as a tool to evaluate the most efficient silver extraction method as well as the impact on the overall life cycle of the solar cells. Silver from the electrodes could be recovered as silver chloride in 95% yield, which diminishes the overall energy payback time by 13%. The efficient recovery of silver justifies the use of silver electrodes in OPV even in a scenario where it is scaled to production volumes of 1 GWp per day.