Key messages: Growing demand for green and renewable energy in the EU, combined with the vulnerability of supply chains for key raw materials, is driving the need to recover the materials used in green transition application (e.g. batteries and photovoltaic panels, etc.). This presents an opportunity to reduce the risk of downstream pollution from disposing of or recycling these items. While projects are investigating new processes for recycling materials from green energy technology, such means are not yet fully developed, leading to increasing waste volumes and a potential burden for future generations. Further progress is needed from both technical and regulatory bodies to help address challenges and improve the recycling of materials from green energy technologies.

Percentage of photovoltaic (PV) panels waste recycled or prepared for reuse

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References and footnotes

  1. Ansarin, M., et al., 2023, Supply chain risks in the EU’s clean energy technologies, Publications Office of the European Union.
  2. Majewski, P., et al., 2022, ‘End-of-life policy considerations for wind turbine blades’, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 164, p. 112538 (DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2022.112538).
  3. EEA, 2021, ‘Emerging waste streams: Opportunities and challenges of the clean-energy transition from a circular economy perspective’ ( accessed 08 January 2024.
  4. Beauson, J., et al., 2022, ‘The complex end-of-life of wind turbine blades: A review of the European context’, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 155, p. 111847 (DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2021.111847).
  5. Curtis, T., et al., 2021, Solar Photovoltaic Module Recycling: A Survey of U.S. Policies and Initiatives, No NREL/TP-6A20-74124, 1774839, MainId:6273 ( accessed 13 March 2024.
  6. EC, 2023, Regulation (EU) 2023/1542 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2023 concerning batteries and waste batteries, amending Directive 2008/98/EC and Regulation (EU) 2019/1020 and repealing Directive 2006/66/EC (Text with EEA relevance) (OJ L 191, 28.7.2023, pp. 1–117).
  7. EC, 2012, Directive 2012/19/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2012 on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) (recast) Text with EEA relevance (OJ L 197, 24.7.2012, pp. 38–71).
  8. Yang, Y., et al., 2012, ‘Recycling of composite materials’, Chemical Engineering and Processing: Process Intensification 51, pp. 53-68 (DOI: 10.1016/j.cep.2011.09.007).
  9. O'Sullivan, L., 2023, ‘French Start-up ROSI Is Engineering a Solution to Solar Energy’s Waste Problem’, RESET ( accessed 03 March 2024.
  10. EC, 2022, Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL establishing a framework for setting ecodesign requirements for sustainable products and repealing Directive 2009/125/EC (COM(2022) 142 final), ( accessed 12 March 2024.