India's solar waste expected to reach 600 kilotonnes by 2030, study warns

It underscores the critical minerals embedded in solar waste


A recent study conducted by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in collaboration with the Council on Energy, Environment, and Water (CEEW) has unveiled alarming projections regarding India's solar waste output. According to the study released on Wednesday, the accumulation of solar waste in India is anticipated to soar to a staggering 600 kilotonnes by 2030, equivalent to the capacity of 720 Olympic-size swimming pools.

The report highlights that approximately 67% of this projected waste will emanate from five states, namely Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. Furthermore, it underscores the critical minerals embedded in solar waste, estimating that by 2030, it will include around 10 kilotonnes of silicon, 12-18 tonnes of silver, and 16 tonnes of cadmium and tellurium, which are pivotal for India's mineral security.

The study underscores the significance of recycling solar waste to recover these essential materials, thereby reducing import dependency and bolstering India's mineral security. It also delineates that the remaining 260 kilotonnes of waste is anticipated to originate from new capacity deployment between 2024 and 2030.

The report forecasts a substantial surge in solar waste to approximately 19,000 kilotonnes by 2050, with 77% of it stemming from new capacities. Consequently, the CEEW emphasizes the potential for India to emerge as a leading hub for the circular economy in the solar industry, thereby fortifying resilient solar supply chains.

In the pursuit of amassing around 292 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2030, the study underscores the pivotal importance of solar photovoltaic waste management for environmental, economic, and social reasons. It accentuates the necessity of data-driven waste management policies, which are already being implemented in India.

Arunabha Ghosh, CEO of CEEW, emphasized the strategic imperative of addressing solar waste, citing it as crucial for energy security and the establishment of a circular economy. He elucidated that in light of the substantial growth of the solar industry, robust recycling mechanisms are becoming increasingly imperative to safeguard renewable ecosystems and foster innovation.

Neeraj Kuldeep, Senior Programme Lead at CEEW, highlighted the potential of a circular solar industry in maximizing resource efficiency and fortifying domestic supply chains. He reiterated the study's findings, emphasizing the need for policy support to advance solar recycling technologies and the industry.

(With inputs from PTI)

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