South Korea moves forward with long-expected solar panel recycling scheme


South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) has approved a long-awaited scheme for solar module recycling at Prime Minister Han Duck-soo's latest ministerial meeting.

The new provisions establish a standardized collection system for each of the country's major regions. It aims to ensure a waste panel recycling/reuse rate of more than 80%, in line with current EU levels, over a period of three years. The scheme also lays the foundations for the creation of a statistical system for the sector.

The scheme is designed to encourage solar module reuse before the recycling option becomes the final choice. It will also introduce certifications under the Eco-Assurance System (ECOAS) framework, which restricts the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment.

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The South Korean government said it expects 1,222 tons of solar module waste by 2025, 2,645 tons by 2027, 6,796 tons by 2029, and 9,632 tons by 2032. The country reached an installed solar capacity of around 22 GW at the end of December 2021. Newly installed PV capacity for 2021 was around 4.4 GW.

South Korea plans to install 30.8 GW of solar by 2030.

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