SOLAR WASTE (Syllabus GS Paper 3 – Env and Eco)

News-CRUX-10     21st March 2024        
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Context: According to a recently published study, India recently generated approximately 100 kilotonnes (kt) of solar waste in the financial year (FY) 2022-2023.


Solar Waste

  • About: Solar waste encompasses waste from both manufacturing processes and the field, as highlighted in the study.
  • Manufacturing Waste Streams: Manufacturing waste comprises scrap production and waste from PV modules failing quality tests.
  • Field Waste Streams:

oTransport and handling-related waste, incorporating damaged modules.

oWaste resulting from damage incurred during the operational lifetime of solar modules.

oEnd-of-life waste when modules are no longer functional.


Findings of the Study

  • Projected Increase in Solar Capacity: By 2030, India's current installed solar capacity is estimated to triple, generating about 340 kt of waste.
  • Concentration of Solar Waste in Five States: Approximately 67% of this waste is expected to be produced by Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh due to their higher solar capacity.
  • Expansion Plans of Renewable Energy-Rich States: These states, with significant solar capacity, intend to extensively expand their solar capacity in line with India's 500 GW renewable energy target.
  • Higher Quantum of Waste Production: Consequently, the rate of producing solar waste will be notably higher in these states as they contribute the majority of GWs towards India's renewable energy goals.
  • Cumulative Waste Projections: The study projects that the cumulative waste, including existing and new capacity deployed between FY24 and FY30, will reach about 600 kt by 2030.
  • Long-Term Waste Projection: By 2050, the cumulative waste is expected to escalate to about 19,000 kt, with 77% of it generated from new capacities.
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