100 plants mulled for solar waste
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100 plants mulled for solar waste

Solar cells. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Solar cells. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The Industry Ministry is considering setting up a plant to handle old and irreparably damaged solar cells.

It would also support private companies in establishing roughly 100 plants to either repair or recycle about 90% of between 620,000 and 790,000 tonnes of solar cells whose lives will start to expire in the next three years, the ministry said on Monday.

These are among the measures being considered to deal with what is expected to be huge amounts of solar-cell waste from 2022, said Surapol Chamat, deputy permanent secretary for industry.

Solar panels normally have a 20-year lifespan and Thailand has been using them since 2002, he said.

After 20 years, their power-generating capacity is drastically reduced but they may still be able to generate power.

Depending on their condition at the time of expiry, the panels will need to be either destroyed, repaired or recycled, Mr Surapol added.

For those damaged beyond repair, the ministry has assigned the Department of Industrial Works to study setting up another industrial-waste management plant to deal specifically with them, he noted.

They could be processed into dark-coloured glass for use in construction, among other options, he said.

As for the repair-and-recycling plants, the ministry may help companies establish 100 facilities in 10 provinces, including those around Bangkok.

Each of those provinces is expected to have at least 10 of these two types of plants, with more to be built later in other regions until every province has one, Mr Surapol said.

The 100 reprocessing plants should be able to handle 90% of expired panels, or up to 710,000 tonnes, he said.

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