India’s Draft Policy on National Resource Efficiency Focuses on Recycling of Solar Components

The policy aims to provide sustained economic growth through sustainable use of natural resources


The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has published a draft policy called National Resource Efficiency Policy (Draft) 2019. The ministry has invited comments and suggestions from stakeholders, including public and private organizations, experts, and citizens.

According to Kushal Vashist, director of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, “Enhancing resource efficiency and promoting the use of secondary raw materials has emerged as a strategy for ensuring that the potential trade-off between growth, resource constraints, and environmental well-being can be minimized. An overarching national policy framework is required to mainstream resource efficiency across all sectors and regions of the country.”

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) with its revised target, aims to deploy 100,000 MW of solar power in the country by 2022. Officially launched in November 2009, the JNNSM, also known as the National Solar Mission, is one of the eight key missions which comprise India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change.

“This will require supply and use of newer materials for manufacturing different solar PV technologies while maintaining cost competitiveness in the sector and in this regard, resource efficiency will be a key to achieve these objectives,” states the draft.

As the government targets to achieve renewable-based power capacity of 175 GW by the year 2022, the total estimated demand for materials will increase from almost 0.7 million tons to 12 million tons between 2015 and 2030, according to the draft policy.

The ministry states that under such a scenario, the demand for glass, aluminum, and silver will reach 7 million tons, 1.7 million tons and 3.8 million tons by 2030, as compared to 0.4 million tons of glass, 0.1  million tons of aluminum and 0.2 million tons of silver was consumed in 2015.

To make solar PV recycling sector ready for a future stream of PV waste, the ministry states that there’s a need to train commercial recycling companies on the constituents of solar PV and procedure to break them down.

“As solar panel technology improves, manufacturers will find ways around using components that would have value to recyclers, like copper and silver. Setting up proper solar panel recycling infrastructure that can manage large volumes of disposed PV modules, will facilitate the increased scientific dismantling of panels,” the draft policy states.

The ministry has also proposed that the cost of take-back arrangement needs to be specified within the total cost of installation, and enforcement mechanisms for such contracts should be designed by the government in their tenders and programs or in the power purchase agreements (PPAs).

Easy financing instruments need to be explored by banking and non-banking financial institutions for promoting investment in formal recycling setups. A cluster-based approach could be considered by bringing different players. The waste generated from solar PV should be treated as e-waste to provide a legal mechanism for solar PV waste management, states the draft.

The government has also set a target to establish four major authorized dismantling facilities by 2025 and double the number to eight by 2030.  It has also proposed that 85% of the recovery rate of materials should be from discarded PVs.

Recently, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy invited proposals for research and development (R&D) and demonstration in the field of solar energy. The proposals have been sent to start-ups, industries, and R&D laboratories. Organizations or institutions that are involved in the research, development, and demonstration in solar power-related areas can also apply. This initiative is also likely to see the emergence of new, cutting edge technologies in the field of renewable energy.