India needs a grow its circular economy in solar industry waste

28 March 2024 17:29


New Delhi - India expects to generate 292 gigawatts of solar energy by 2030. As a new Council on Energy, Environment and Water study argued, India has the legal framework to recycle and reuse solar panels and other goods to harvest cadmium, silicon, silver, tellurium, and other vital metals.

India’s solar industry could be generating as much as 600 kilotons of waste in the next seven years, according to the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, or CEEW. Now the New Delhi-based think tank has issued a new study contending that a more robust circular economy is necessary in India to reuse and recycle solar energy waste materials like cadmium, silicon, silver, and tellurium.

Entitled “Enabling a Circular Economy in India’s Solar Industry: Assessing the Solar Waste Quantum”, the study notes how India’s solar capacity has grown from 4 gigawatts in 2015 to 73 gigawatts as of December last year, while officials and companies aim to increase that generation to 292 gigawatts by 2030.

“India must proactively address solar waste, not just as an environmental imperative but as a strategic necessity for ensuring energy security and building a circular economy,” said CEEW Chief Executive Officer Arunabha Ghosh in a March 20 press release. “As we witness the remarkable growth of solar…robust recycling mechanisms become increasingly crucial. They safeguard renewable ecosystems, create green jobs, enhance mineral security, foster innovation, and build resilient, circular supply chains.”

Last year, furthermore, the Indian government enacted rules that govern how companies and customers should manage solar photovoltaic cells and other waste. A regulatory framework is available, therefore, to create the circular economy that CEEW researchers envision.

“A circular solar industry and responsible waste management will maximize resource efficiency and make domestic supply chains resilient,” said Neeraj Kuldeep, senior program lead at CEEW. ce/jd

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