China Thinking About Ageing Solar & Wind Plants

NDRC Says Country To Establish Recycling System For Decommissioned PV & Wind Energy Equipment

China Thinking About Ageing Solar & Wind Plants

Solar PV module and wind equipment recycling is at a nascent stage in China, according to the NDRC, hence the need to have an evolved technical system in place to responsibly manage the waste. (Illustrative Photo; Photo Credit: Kampan/Shutterstock.com)

  • China has released guidelines to tackle solar PV and wind equipment waste from decommissioned plants  
  • It aims to establish technical standards and industrial clusters for the expected waste by 2025  
  • By 2030, the country will target for a mature recycling technology system to match the decommissioning scale  

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China has issued guidelines to set up a recycling system for decommissioned solar PV and wind power equipment, calling it the final link of development for green transformation.  

The world’s largest solar market, China is likely to exceed its 1.2 TW solar and wind installed capacity goal for 2030 as the country exceeded 860 GW capacity for both these technologies at the end of June 2023 (see China PV News Snippets). This means millions of solar panels and wind turbines will reach end-of-life in the next few years to come.  

With that in mind, the NDRC plans to establish industrial clusters of decommissioned equipment, putting in place a responsibility mechanism for the disposal of equipment used for utility scale projects by 2025. Relevant technical standards and rules will also be determined.  

By 2030, the idea is to have a full-process, mature recycling technology system for this equipment to effectively match the decommissioning scale.   

It also plans to start from the scratch by guiding manufacturing enterprises to aim for light weight products that can be easily disassembled, transported and recycled with specific requirements, creating Green Design Demonstration Enterprises.  

Manufacturers will also be encouraged to prioritize the use of recycled materials in their product design and production processes while ensuring safety and quality of new products.  

Solar PV equipment producers will be supported to establish a distributed PV recycling system through independent recycling, joint recycling or entrusted recycling, according to the NDRC. Even 3rd party professional recycling companies will be backed to carry out recycling of PV and wind energy equipment.  

For solar PV technology, the focus will be on recycling laminates, frames, junction boxes and other components.  

Some solar manufacturers are venturing into the recycling domain, like JinkoSolar that operates a 12 MW pilot line in China, as shared by the company’s Global Product Solution Manager Roy Bi during TaiyangNews Virtual Conference on Solar and Sustainability held in March 2023 (see JinkoSolar PV Module Recycling Pilot Plant In Operation).   

Canadian Solar, the Canada-headquartered PV manufacturer that operates manufacturing fabs in China, shared in its recently released 2022 Sustainability Report that the company relies on 3rd parties like PV Cycle and Take-e-way for repair and recycling of its modules. In 2023, it is also cooperating with Ecoasimelec in Spain for module recycling.  

However, by and large the NDRC believes that there are no clear guidelines for responsible disposal of decommissioned equipment and the business model remains immature, hence the need to have a proper system in place. It aims to offer financial and policy support for recycling projects in this domain.  

Details of the guidance issued by the NDRC, National Energy Administration, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, the Ministry of Commerce, and the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission can be viewed on the NDRC website.  

According to Rystad Energy, solar PV waste is estimated to balloon to 27 million tons/year by 2040. It can be a market can be worth $2.7 billion and grow to $80 billion in the next 2 decades (see PV Recycling Market Worth $80 Billion By 2050).

About The Author

Anu Bhambhani

SENIOR NEWS EDITOR Anu is our solar news whirlwind. At TaiyangNews, she covers everything that is of importance in the world of solar power. In the past 9 years that she has been associated with TaiyangNews, she has covered over thousands of stories, and analysis pieces on markets, technology, financials, and more on a daily basis. She also hosts TaiyangNews Conferences and Webinars. Prior to joining TaiyangNews, Anu reported on sustainability, management, and education for leading print dailies in India. [email protected]

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