• In a few weeks, a factory that recycles solar panels to manufacture new ones will be inaugurated in Saint-Loubès, in Gironde.

  • The site is managed by the solidarity network Envie, specialist in the reprocessing of electrical and electronic equipment.

  • The plant uses a 'delamination' method imported from Japan rather than the general 'grinding' hitherto used in this nascent industry.

It is the first French site of its kind.

The solidarity network Envie, specialist in the reprocessing of electrical and electronic equipment, inaugurated Tuesday in Saint-Loubès, near Bordeaux, a site for the resale of used photovoltaic panels, alongside a recycling activity.

Of the 4,000 tons of panels received each year, the social and solidarity economy company Envie 2E, manager of this site which will start up "in a few weeks", estimates that it will be able to resell 5%, after operating tests, to individuals, businesses and communities.

95% recovery rate

Per ton, these second-hand panels yield about "five times more" than the resale of recycled materials, explained Frédéric Seguin, the director of the processing center.

Another novelty, for the recycling activity, the company has acquired a "delamination" technology imported from Japan which makes it possible to cut the photovoltaic panel by separating the glass layer from its metal components, unlike the general “grinding” process used so far in this nascent sector.

The raw materials withdrawn - 70% of glass but also silver, silicon, copper and aluminum - will be intended for foundries and glass processing companies, added Frédéric Seguin, estimating at 95% the recovery rate of the panels treated by the company.

The only factory to recycle silver

For Nicolas Defrenne, general manager of the eco-organism Soren, responsible for organizing the recycling sector for solar energy waste in France, the Gironde unit is "avant-garde" because its technology is the only one in Europe. to recycle silver, "a critical material" and "essential to the energy transition".

The Saint-Loubès site is the third major solar panel recycling center built in France after that of Haluin (Nord), still operational, and Rousset (Bouches-du-Rhône), managed by Veolia from its launch in 2018 to its closure a few months ago.

European regulations oblige any importer or manufacturer of solar energy panels established on European territory to collect them and process them when they reach the end of their life.

According to the eco-organization Soren, 1.245 million tons of solar panels, with a lifespan of 20 to 30 years, are currently installed in France.

In mid-2022, the total power of photovoltaic installations reached 15.2 GW, including a quarter in New Aquitaine, according to provisional data from the Ministry of Energy Transition.


Gironde: Envie stands up against freewheeling waste around medical equipment


Recycling: What happens to the thousands of tons of solar panels at the end of their life?

  • Planet

  • Solar

  • Solar panels

  • Aquitaine

  • Photovoltaic