Fees for people who install solar panels are to be introduced to fund the establishment of a recycling system for old panels, officials said yesterday.
A solar developer in Yunlin County last month allegedly dumped nearly 800 waste solar panels in Changhua County, sparking public concern about the disposal of waste panels.
“We will not relax waste processing from solar power installations simply because it is regarded as a green-energy source,” Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Man-li (陳曼麗) said at a public hearing at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.
Solar panels are 60 to 90 percent glass, 10 to 15 percent aluminum and 3 percent silicon — which is in the battery — while the rest is made from zinc, silver, copper and lead, said Lai Ying-ying (賴瑩瑩), director-general of the Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) Department of Waste Management.
While an industry for recycling waste panels might emerge after 2025 when there is sufficient economic scope, the EPA is in discussions with the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Bureau of Energy over establishing a system to recycle waste panels, Lai said.
The initial plan is to collect a disposal fee from those who install new panels, she said.
The fee would initially be collected by the bureau, but the EPA would take over after the Waste Disposal Act (廢棄物清理法) is amended, Lai said, adding that next month it would announce standards for recycling and storing waste panels, as well as inspection measures.
The bureau next month would amend draft regulations of the Renewable Energy Development Act (再生能源發展條例) so that from next year it could start collecting the fees when installations are approved, bureau senior specialist Cheng Ju-min (鄭如閔) said.
While the nation’s combined solar capacity reached 2,000 megawatts this month, with the weight of panels estimated at 120,000 tonnes, the bureau would not retroactively collect the fee, Cheng said.
However, Chenya Energy Co representative Chang Wei-sheng (張維勝) said that the fee should be paid regardless of when the panels were installed for the sake of equality and so people could show their regard for environmental protection.
Environmentalists urged officials to establish separate standards for thin-film solar cells, which are more challenging to dispose of, and to initiate a “solar circular economy” in the regulations.
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