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30 March 2023: How India can Manage Solar Photovoltaic Module Waste


  • Responsible management of PV module waste and efficient recovery of different components would prevent the leaching of various toxic elements into the environment and render them available for the manufacturing industry.
  • PV module recycling is a multistep process involving dismantling, delamination, and metal recovery. Some recycling techniques like chemical delamination yield undamaged solar cells, which could be reused directly or with little refurbishing. Mechanical and combustion delamination, on the contrary, yield damaged solar cells that need to be treated electrochemically or metallurgically to recover the metals.

 Key Recommendations

Policymakers should:

  • Introduce a ban on the dumping of waste modules by different entities in landfills.
  • Formulate a dedicated PV module waste management regulation.
  • Introduce incentives like green certificates to provide a level-playing field and encourage recycling and mineral recovery by the industry.

Industries should:

  • Improve the PV module design to minimise the waste at the disposal stage. This can include sustainable design with reduced use of toxic minerals or adopting a ‘design to disassemble’ approach.
  • Invest in the second-life use of sub-standard modules to delay waste creation.
  • Collaborate with research institutes to develop recycling techniques and support pilot demonstrations.
  • Conceptualise new business models to manage and finance the waste disposal

About PV cell

Photovoltaic cells convert sunlight into electricity

A photovoltaic (PV) cell, commonly called a solar cell, is a nonmechanical device that converts sunlight directly into electricity. Some PV cells can convert artificial light into electricity.

Photons carry solar energy

Sunlight is composed of photons, or particles of solar energy. These photons contain varying amounts of energy that correspond to the different wavelengths of the solar spectrum.

Did you know?

Solar photovoltaic cells are grouped in panels (modules), and panels can be grouped into arrays of different sizes to produce small to large amounts of electricity, such as for powering water pumps for livestock water, providing electricity for homes, or utility-scale electricity generation.

Applications of photovoltaic systems

The smallest photovoltaic systems power calculators and wristwatches. Larger systems can provide electricity to pump water, power communications equipment, supply electricity for a single home or business, or form large arrays that supply electricity to thousands of electricity consumers.

Some advantages of PV systems are:

  • PV systems can supply the electricity in locations where electricity distribution systems (power lines) do not exist, and they can also supply electricity to an electric power grid.
  • PV arrays can be installed quickly and can be any size.
  • The environmental effects of PV systems located on buildings is minimal.
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