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State PCS

Rajasthan State PCS

  • 06 Apr 2024
  • 2 min read
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Solar Waste Management

Why in News?

Recently, a report titled 'Enabling a Circular Economy in India’s Solar Industry – Assessing the Solar Waste Quantum' shed light on India's escalating solar waste crisis.

Key Points

  • The study was conducted by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in collaboration with experts from the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (a leading not-for-profit policy research institution in Asia).
  • Key Highlights of the Report are:
    • The current solar capacity of India, as of FY23, has generated about 100 kilotonnes (kt) of cumulative waste, which will increase to 340 kt by 2030.
    • Around 67% of the projected waste by 2030 is expected to be produced by five states: Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh.
    • Discarded solar modules contain critical minerals essential for India's economic development and national security, including silicon, copper, tellurium, and cadmium.
  • Rajasthan has the highest solar power generation potential of all states in the country.
    • As of August 2023, Rajasthan's operational solar power projects produced roughly 17.8 GW of solar energy.

Solar Waste

  • It is any waste generated during the manufacturing of solar modules, or discarded modules and scrap from manufacturing processes.
    • Modules are discarded at the end of their functional life or due to damages from transportation, handling, and installation.
    • Improper handling and landfilling of solar waste should be avoided. Proper treatment is necessary to reclaim valuable minerals and prevent the leaching of toxic materials like lead and cadmium.
  • According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), approximately 80% of solar panel components, including glass and metal frames, are recyclable.
    • Solar waste can be recycled to recover materials like glass, aluminium, copper, silicon and silver.
    • Recycling can be broadly categorised into mechanical, thermal and chemical processes.
      • Each process helps in the recovery of specific minerals of varying purity grades.

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