Addressing the Impending Issue: India’s Projection of Solar Waste Generation by 2030        

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March 23, 2024

Addressing the Impending Issue: India’s Projection of Solar Waste Generation by 2030        


  • A recent study sheds light on India’s burgeoning challenge of solar waste management, forecasting a significant increase in solar waste generation by 2030. Published jointly by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), the analysis underscores the criticality of adopting sustainable practices in the solar industry to mitigate environmental, economic, and social impacts.

Solar Waste Projections:

  • By 2030, India is anticipated to witness a substantial surge in its solar waste production, reaching an estimated 600 kilotonnes (kt). This projection starkly contrasts with the 100 kt of solar waste generated in the financial year 2022-2023. Notably, the study highlights that approximately 67% of this waste will originate from five states: Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh, which presently boast significant solar capacities.

Insights into Solar Waste:

  • Solar waste encompasses both manufacturing byproducts and field-generated waste. The former includes scrap from manufacturing processes and failed photovoltaic (PV) modules, while the latter encompasses waste incurred during transportation, handling, and the end-of-life disposal of solar modules. The study primarily focuses on field-generated waste, excluding manufacturing waste from its analysis.

Key Findings and Analysis:

  • India’s current installed solar capacity, standing at 66.7 GW as of March 2023, is poised to escalate to 292 GW by 2030, marking a considerable leap over a decade. The study underscores the imperative of effectively managing solar waste, especially considering the anticipated proliferation of solar installations. Notably, the five aforementioned states, with their robust renewable energy initiatives, are expected to contribute significantly to the escalating quantum of solar waste.

Addressing the Challenge:

  • The study advocates for proactive measures to address the impending challenge of solar waste management. Recommendations include establishing a comprehensive database of installed solar capacity to facilitate waste estimation, incentivizing recyclers, and promoting stakeholder engagement to enhance waste management practices. Moreover, the report underscores the urgency of creating a robust market for solar recycling, emphasizing that solar waste is not merely a future concern but an immediate and pressing issue.

Recycling Solutions:

  • The report outlines two broad approaches to solar panel recycling. Conventional recycling, involving mechanical processes such as crushing and sieving, primarily recovers materials like glass, aluminium, and copper. However, it falls short in reclaiming valuable materials like silver and silicon. In contrast, high-value recycling employs a blend of mechanical, chemical, and thermal processes to recover precious materials effectively, including silver and silicon, thereby offering a more sustainable solution.


  • India’s trajectory in solar energy presents a dual challenge of meeting renewable energy targets while effectively managing associated waste. The insights gleaned from the study underscore the urgency of adopting proactive measures to transition towards a circular economy in the solar industry. By implementing sustainable practices and fostering innovation in recycling technologies, India can mitigate the environmental impact of solar waste while simultaneously harnessing the full potential of solar energy for its sustainable development goals.

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Addressing the Impending Issue: India’s Projection of Solar Waste Generation by 2030 | Vaid ICS Institute