Emerging waste streams: Opportunities and challenges of the clean energy transition from a circular economy perspective
Renewable energy technologies, such as wind turbines, solar photovoltaic panels and batteries, are essential for Europe’s transition to climate neutrality. Deployment, maintenance and replacement of this infrastructure requires significant resources, including many substances included in the EU list of critical raw materials.
Waste arising from end-of-life clean energy infrastructure is projected to grow up to 30-fold over the next 10 years, presenting significant opportunities to reduce consumption of scarce raw materials by recycling metals and other valuable resources back into production systems.
Circular economy approaches such as repair and upgrading of equipment and recycling of end-of-life infrastructure can underpin the sustainability credentials of EU renewable energy.