In 2023, the South Korean government intends to implement new guidelines for the recycling of PV waste. Several recycling plants, including one run by the government, are already under construction, with a combined capacity of 9,700 tonnes.
Now, the news platform Aju Business Daily has reported that a solar panel recycling center has been built in the southern county of Jincheon through an 18.8 billion won ($15.8 million) project to properly deal with environmental problems created by abandoned solar modules. Every year, the center can recycle up to 3,600 tonnes of old panels.
Glass, aluminum, silicon, and copper are among the materials used in solar panels. It uses sunlight as a source of energy to generate direct current electricity. Solar power generator installations in South Korea raised their overall generation capacity from 79 megawatt-hours in 2011 to 4,126 megawatt-hours in 2020. The 4,126 megawatt-hours of generation capacity can power 4,126,000 households annually.
The Business Daily further wrote that as the number of solar power producing facilities grows, more abandoned solar modules will be produced. In 2023, the Korea Environment Institute estimates that 9,665 tonnes of solar modules will be discarded. Recycling a tonne of old modules can cut greenhouse gas emissions by 1.2 tonnes.
The recycling center was officially opened on December 21 in Jincheon County, some 89 kilometers (55 miles) south of Seoul. Jincheon anticipates that when solar power plants become more widespread, abandoned solar modules would generate a slew of social and environmental issues.
After a trial run, the plant will go into full operation in January 2022. The center features a number of different facilities for collecting, sorting, and recycling obsolete modules.