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Maximum Penalty of NT$3 Million for Littered Solar Panels as Recycling and Disposal Mechanism Initiated

published: 2020-05-06 18:30

Taiwan has been vigorously promoting solar power in recent years, and the “disposal” of solar power is also an essential part for the development of the energy. The Environmental Protection Administration, Executive Yuan, finally announced the solar recycling and disposal mechanism not long ago, which states that each unit of solar panel must be registered and paid with a recycling and cleaning fee in advance, and a maximum fine of NT$3 million will be imposed for any littered solar panels.

According to the renewable energy planning of Taiwan, the installed capacity of solar power in 2025 is expected to arrive at 20GW, and there will be more than 100K tons of discarded modules each year after 2035 assuming that each unit of solar panel can last 20 years, with 0.5% of early-retired solar panels due to natural disasters, which explains how illegal disposal is nothing but harmful to the environment.

In regard to this issue, the Environmental Protection Administration and the Bureau of Energy joined hands and implemented a recycling and disposal system, where solar equipment holders pay for an advance recycling and cleaning fee, and professional disposal agencies are commissioned to handle the recycling procedure, which is currently responsible by the “Taiwan Photovoltaic Industry Association”.

Large solar power plant operators will be required to register a serial number for each unit of solar panel, then pay for a recycling and cleaning fee for solar panels at NT$ 1,000/KW in accordance with the relevant stipulations from the sub-regulation of “Act of Renewable Energy Development”, with an anticipation of NT$200 million collected for the first year. When recycling, one must log in online, collect according to the specification, and await the disposal operators for pick-up and disposal, whereas smaller solar panels used for households and RVs can also be disposed by specialists from dialing the direct line.

The Environmental Protection Administration pointed out that the recycling and disposal system has been comprehensively arranged, and has commenced operation by having completed the disposal of the first batch of discarded solar panels recently. Violators who litter discarded modules, or dispose through illegal channels, will be fined with a maximum fine of NT$3 million according to the Waste Disposal Act.

Though the advance payment of the recycling and disposal fee might just reduce the possibility of illegal disposal, and prevent the littering that happened in Changhua during 2018 from occurring again.

Why is it necessary for solar panels to go through a different recycling procedure? The primary reason lies on the fact that glass, aluminum, silicon, copper, precious metals, and other plastics have already been integrated tightly with ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) during the manufacturing process of solar panels, which makes the separation and individual recycling of different materials contained within these solar panels a major struggle for each country.

The Environmental Protection Administration expressed that operators are currently using a heat treatment (melting method or hot knife method) to separate the glass from the PV cells, then recycle them individually. Research units have successfully invented the pyrolysis and stripping methods that eliminate the EVA component above the glass of discarded solar panels, which facilitates the recycling and reuse of glass.

 (Cover photo source: shutterstock)

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