China to build solar, wind recycling system as waste from renewables surge


China, the world's biggest renewable equipment manufacturer, will set up a recycling system for ageing wind turbines and solar panels as it tries to address the growing volumes of waste from the industry.

China has enhanced its wind and solar manufacturing capabilities in order to decarbonize its economy and reduce its dependence on coal, and it is on track to achieve its target to bring total wind and solar capacity to 1,200 GW by 2030, up from 758 GW at the end of last year.

However, as older projects are replaced and shut down, waste volumes are set to increase, with large amounts of capacity already approaching retirement age, posing big environmental risks.

Thus, China’s National Development and Reform Commission said on Aug. 16 that the country will draw up new industrial standards and rules detailing the proper ways to decommission, dismantle and recycle wind and solar facilities.

The state planning agency said that China would have a "basically mature" full-process recycling system for wind turbines and solar panels by the end of 2030.

According to China's official Science and Technology Daily newspaper in June,

PV panels have a lifespan of around 25 years, and many of China's projects are already showing significant signs of wear and tear.

The paper cited experts as saying that the country would need to recycle 1.5 million metric tons of PV modules by 2030, soaring to around 20 million tons in 2050.

According to one scenario proposed by the International Renewable Energy Agency last year, total waste from solar projects alone could hit 212 million tons a year by 2050.

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