EPA Refines on Disposal Mechanism for Discarded Solar Panels

published: 2021-06-04 9:30 | editor: | category: News

Solar energy is one of the major renewable energy developments in Taiwan, and the country is currently marching towards the 20GW installed capacity target for 2025. Taking into account the disposal of solar panels, the Environmental Protection Administration has refined on the disposal mechanism for discarded solar panels, with two legal disposal agencies now available in the country. 

According to Taiwan’s planning in renewable energy, the installed capacity of solar energy is expected to arrive at 20GW in 2025, and there will be more than 100K tons of discarded modules each year after 2035, as well as 0.5% of early decommissioned solar panels each year due to natural disasters, thus the recycling and disposal of solar panels must be placed with great emphasis. 

The mainstream silicon solar panels in the market consist of 74.2% glass, 10.3% aluminum frame, and 4% cell. The cell and glass are adhered with each other using EVA, and the solar cell is tightly encapsulated by the aluminum frame. Although solar panels do no self-dissolve or leak out liquid that will lead to environmental pollution, and are regarded as general industrial waste in the storage and disposal phase after being decommissioned, they are not to be discarded casually. 

Bureau of Energy, Ministry of Economic Affairs, is currently responsible for the collection of fees and the custody of discarded solar panels. A recycling charge of NT$1,000/KW for solar panels was incorporated into the “Feed-in Tariffs and the Calculation Formula for the Electricity Generated by the Renewable Energy Power Generation Equipment of 2019” that was stipulated on February 1st 2019 to establish a recycling mechanism, and a recycling charge of NT$0.0656/kWh for modules was listed in the “Feed-in Tariffs and the Calculation Formula for the Electricity Generated by the Renewable Energy Power Generation Equipment of 2020” stipulated on December 31st of the same year. 

The EPA started commissioning the Taiwan Photovoltaic Industry Association to handle the disposal of discarded solar panels, as well as counselling the association on shouldering the responsibilities as a producer, and forming task forces to help with preceding operations, including the establishment of a disposal system and the smooth disposal procedures for discarded solar panels, since 2019. 

There are currently two legal agencies on handling discarded solar panels in Taiwan, who have obtained the willingness in disposal from Japan and Germany, and are now able to handle the existing volume of discarded solar panels, as well as the significant level of damages during natural disasters. 

Users or businesses can log in at the “Management and Information System for the Recycling Service of Discarded Solar Panels” when recycling solar panels, and follow the four procedures of “ask”, “fill”, “collect”, and “recycle”, with the task force facilitating matchmaking for legal disposal agencies in implementing disposals. In addition, users of minor volume, including households and  RVs, can commission the cleaning squadron in their corresponding counties or cities, or dial their hotline to request assistance. 

As for major power plants, who are required to dispose an accumulation of 50 units of solar panels, they must voluntarily or commission the task force office to deliver the discarded panels marked with the waste code of “D-258 Discarded PV Panels After Use” to a specified temporary location or a disposal (mould manufacturer) operator within a specific time period. 

Violators who casually discard solar panels, or dispose through illegal channels, will be fined up to NT$3 million in accordance with the Waste Disposal Act. 

(Cover photo source: shutterstock) 

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