A Task Force was constituted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) to draft a policy framework for adopting circular economy in solar energy. Various experts, leading industry associations and technical institutions were part of it to share their opinions. MNRE organised several virtual consultations based on reactions received and finally, the MoEFCC included Solar PV modules (panels) and cells in its revised draft E-waste rules vide Gazette on 19th May 2022.
India will perhaps be the second after the European Union to come out with a national policy on solar waste management. By way of this, it joins the elite list of countries addressing the environmental concerns related to solar energy and created a niche image. Recycling and reclaiming the materials will enable re-produce new modules and reduce carbon footprint thus justifying circularity in solar energy.
This mandatory law will also result in employment opportunities at grassroot levels for multiple waste collection centres in the country besides skilled persons for recycling and recovering raw materials.
Jaideep N. Malaviya, one of the members of Task Force and Managing Director, Malaviya Solar Energy Consultancy said – “We had recommended Extended Producer Responsibility for Solar PV module waste, and glad it was accepted. Recycling will enable India achieve ‘Atmanirbhar’ as the reclaimed materials can be re-used as secondary raw materials to produce fresh modules and prevent fresh mining that causes environment damage. There are however challenges but can be tackled with indigenous R&D.”
This is a great step by the govt. of India to reduce carbon footprint and fulfilling the Sustainability Development Goals (SDG). Global studies show by way of re-using the reclaimed materials the energy savings is between 40% – 60%.