event details - End-of-life Management of Solar Waste in Pakistan

End-of-life Management of Solar Waste in Pakistan

Event details

  • Monday | 24 Oct, 2022
  • 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
  • Islamabad

Concept Note:

Solar energy technologies are likely to form the backbone of the clean energy transition that the world is desperately in need of. In the past few years, these technologies, in particular solar photovoltaics (PV), have witnessed a tremendous boom, with investments ranging over billions of dollars from government and private investors alike. Their renewable nature, coupled with their contribution towards the reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, has been paramount in increasing their popularity and subsequently bringing down the unit cost to less than US$1/W. Furthermore, the creation of nearly 2 million jobs worldwide, may thus far be ascribed to the solar industry, with the number continuously rising. The International Energy Agency (IEA), in their 2021 preliminary market report, revealed that the global market for solar PV grew significantly despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The report indicates an installation and commissioning of at least 139.4 GW in 2020, increasing the cumulative global capacity to 760.4 GW. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of this may be attributed to Pakistan, where, as stated in the Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan (IGCEP 2021-2030), cumulative installed capacity of solar was a mere 0.4 GW (1% of the national energy mix) at the end of May 2021. Nevertheless, Pakistan has recently introduced

several measures to encourage power generation through solar PV technologies, such as the recent removal of the 17% general sales tax that was previously imposed on solar panels. In addition to this, the introduction and effective implementation of the National Solar Policy, which is still in the pipeline, is the way forward to reducing the country’s oil import bill that reached $23 billion during FY22, amid the fast-rising prices of the US dollar that have crossed the PKR 200 mark. As the large-scale deployment of solar panels and systems continues, the emergence of significant volumes of waste is inevitable. Typically, a solar photovoltaic panel is built to last for at least 25 years, while other system components may last 4-5 years, depending on usage, component availability for repairs and services, etc. The reuse and recycling of these panels was not of much concern at the development stage however, with the solar PV panels, worldwide, now entering their end-of-life phase, an effective management of these retiring panels is likely to become an environmental issue of much concern. The exponential increase in PV panel waste is anticipated to reach over 60-70 million tonnes by 2050. It is well established, from the existing literature, that solar PV waste poses considerable risks to the environment and human health; PV modules contain dangerous materials, including Cadmium (Cd), Lead (Pb), Selenide (SE) and their compounds. Therefore, it is crucial to develop an effective strategy to manage this emerging waste stream, preferably in advance, especially for a country like Pakistan, where the existing waste management practices may not be sufficient to handle such technologies. The circular economy also has a big part to play in this process however, there are drivers, barriers, and enablers along the way; these may be categorized as economic, social, environmental, technological, policy-related, etc. In the context of Pakistan, devising enabling solutions for the end-of-life management of solar waste will involve looking into economically viable best-practices from around the globe, mechanisms for local manufacturing and processing, innovative technology transfer, and development of robust management policies and regulatory frameworks. Against this backdrop, the proposed webinar will seek to understand the ground realities of Pakistan’s solar waste management capabilities and identify challenges and barriers that may hinder the adoption of a regularized strategy and policy framework.

The following key objectives will be addressed:

1. To understand the supply chain of solar energy technologies that are currently (or will soon be) available in Pakistan and assess the technology and governance challenges associated with the management of solar waste in the local market.

2. To explore and identify potential pathways for effective disposal in light of environmental, social, and health impacts considering Pakistan’s current waste management landscape.

3. To assess the market readiness of solar waste management in Pakistan in light of the 7R’s of sustainability and circular economy (Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Repurpose, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot).

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