Government Adds Solar Modules to Ambit of E-Waste Management Rules

Solar equipment makers must recover useful materials from solar waste


Minister of Power and New and Renewable Energy R.K.Singh  informed the Rajya Sabha that the management of waste generated from solar photovoltaic modules, panels, and cells has been added to the E-Waste Management Rules, 2022 announced last November.

Every manufacturer and producer of solar photovoltaic modules and cells must store the waste generated up to the year 2034-35 according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines.

All solar equipment and material producers must register themselves on the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change’s (MoEF) E-Waste Management System portal. They must ensure that the processing of waste other than the solar PV modules or panels or cells is done as per the applicable rules.

They are required to comply with the standard operating procedure laid down by the CPCB while storing solar waste. The manufacturers must also ensure that the inventory of solar modules or cells is put up on the portal.

The Minister said recyclers of solar modules and cells will be responsible for the recovery of useful materials from them as per CPCB norms.

According to a global assessment conducted by the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the volume of solar modules not in use is likely to account for nearly 80 million metric tons at the end of 2050.

The study published in the journal Nature focused on the recycling of crystalline silicon, which is used in 90% of installed solar PV modules in pure form.

Silicon accounts for nearly half of the energy produced and half of the cost to produce solar PV modules.

Last year, the MoEF announced the Battery Waste Management Rules, 2022 ensuring eco-friendly management of waste batteries, including those embedded in electric vehicles, portable, and industrial batteries. Under the revised rules, the ministry mandated the recycling of materials such as lead, nickel, lithium, nickel, and cobalt which are used in batteries.