The photovoltaic (PV) generation system has been widely used since the late 1990s. Considering its lifespan of 20 to 30 years, many end-of-life systems will emerge in the near future. This is why recycling PV systems will be beneficial (and may even be detrimental) to both the environment and the economy. Through the recycling process, hazardous by-product substances such as cadmium and lead can be treated properly. Moreover, valuable materials including indium, gallium, and tellurium can be extracted and reused for manufacturing purposes. Even though many studies have dealt with issues related to the PV system and its recycling policy, they lack significant factors regarding the recycling policy. This study analyzes and compares three real cases of manufacturer’s recycling policy, including Deutsche Solar, First Solar, and PV Cycle, from the perspective of a closed-loop supply chain. Two mathematical models are developed to help PV system manufacturers establish supply chain planning and choose suitable recycling policies in consideration of different circumstances. Furthermore, an experimental example of these models will be used to validate and conclude the significance of the models. The results from this study will show that recycling CdTe PV systems is much more efficient than recycling c-Si PV systems and that, in the case of c-Si, it is better to outsource recycling end-of-life systems and dispose of all manufacturing scrap.
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