India’s cumulative PV waste to soar by 2050

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From pv magazine India

India’s cumulative solar waste will reach about 19,000 kt by 2050, as all the capacity deployed until 2030 will have reached end of life, according to a new study by the CEEW. The organization estimates India-specific solar waste generation from various streams, excluding manufacturing.

The report states while the modules are designed for a 25-year life, some have an early end of life due to factors such as damage during transportation, module handling, and project operations.

According to the report, India’s installed 66.7 GW of capacity, as of fiscal 2023, has generated about 100 kt of waste, but that will increase to 340 kt by 2030. The 340 kt of waste is expected to include about 10 kt of silicon, 12 kt to 18 kt of silver, and 16 tons of cadmium and tellurium. Around 67% of the 340 kt of solar waste will be generated in five states: Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.

The cumulative solar waste from existing and new PV capacity deployed between fiscal 2024 and fiscal 2030 will reach about 600 kt, equivalent to filling up 720 Olympic-size swimming pools.

The study authors assumed that India’s installed PV capacity will reach about 292 GW by 2030. India will need about 1,700 GW of solar capacity by 2050 and 5,600 GW by 2070 to achieve its 2070 net-zero target.

The study authors said that mounting solar waste presents an opportunity for India to emerge as a leading circular economy hub for the solar industry.

India is already implementing several measures to tackle the waste. Last year, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) issued E-waste Management Rules 2022 that will govern the management of solar cells and modules waste in India. These rules mandate the producers of solar cells and modules to manage their waste under the extended producer responsibility (EPR) framework.

“India must proactively address solar waste, not just as an environmental imperative but as a strategic necessity for ensuring energy security and building a circular economy,” said Arunabha Ghosh, the CEO of CEEW. “As we witness the remarkable growth of solar from only 4 GW in March 2015 to 73 GW in December 2023, robust recycling mechanisms become increasingly crucial. They safeguard renewable ecosystems, create green jobs, enhance mineral security, foster innovation, and build resilient, circular supply chains.”

The CEEW said that the Indian solar industry should prepare for new responsibilities by arranging reverse logistics, storage, dismantling centres, and recycling facilities. The industry should also explore innovative financing mechanisms and business models for solar waste management, it said.

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