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EPA Plans to Levy Recycling Charge for Waste Solar Panels

published: 2018-11-13 17:21

With huge amount of waste solar panels expected to become a major environmental problem, as a side effect of the government's policy promoting PV power, the Cabinet-level Environmental Protection Administration is scheduled to unveil a solar-panel recycling and treatment mechanism by the end of 2018, according to which related businesses will pay for provisions solar-panel recycling fees in advance starting 2019.

The mechanism is designed to preempt the serious pollution problem to be caused by waste solar panels, whose amount is expected to top 10,000 metric tons by 2023 and 100,000 metric tons by 2025, compared with 3,000 metric tons in 2017.

Taiwan started to push PV power in 2000 and the first batch of PV power systems are expected to be decommissioned starting 2020, given their 20-25 years of product life. Waste solar panels will become an increasingly serious problem, as the Ministry of Economic Affairs has aimed to boost PV power capacities to 6.5 GW by 2020 and 20 GW by 2025.

Various parties have expressed concern over the problem. Speaking at the floor of the legislature on Nov. 5, legislator Chen Man-li urged the EPA to speed up formulation of related measures to cope with the problem.

According to local media, Lee Ying-yuan, EPA minister, noted that recyclers and PV system manufacturers and operators have formed alliances, respectively, for recycling solar panels, adding that the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) will make provisions to finance treatment of recycled solar panels.

Lai Ying-ying, director of EPA's department of waste management, reported that the EPA is in talk with the Bureau of Energy, MOEA, for formulating the aforementioned mechanism, according to which part of the PV power purchasing rate will be appropriated for funding the treatment of waste solar panels.

EPA reported that of the various materials of solar panels, aluminum frames will be recycled, glasses and PV-cell modules will be pulverized for landfill, while metal conducting wires and AP adaptors will be recycled as waste metal for treatment.

Given multitude of technologies, not all parts of solar panels can be treated via landfill or incineration, such as thin-film solar panels which contained heavy metal cadmium. In addition, it is not mandatory for related business to take part in recycling or make reports or classification for recycling of solar panels under existing laws/regulators, the latter of which makes it difficult for the government to have a firm grip on the outlets of waste solar panels. The upcoming mechanism is expected to alleviate the problem.

(First photo courtesy of Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine Flickr CC0 1.0, written by Daisy Chuang)

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