Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology plays a critical role in India’s clean energy transition. India’s solar energy sector is growing exponentially and for 2030, the objective is to have 280 GW of installed solar capacity. However, this growth will lead to an imminent challenge in end-of-life (EoL) waste management, which prompts considerations on circularity in PV systems. However, there are challenges: there are no appropriate standards for PV end of life management including recycling and reuse, national policies and regulations are lacking specific guidelines for PV, and there are no companies working on these topics at a commercial level.

To overcome the existing challenges and to increase circularity, quality infrastructure (QI) services are required. Quality infrastructure is the system comprising the organisations, policies and regulatory framework required to support and enhance the quality and sustainability of a value chain. Quality infrastructure services to support circularity include, for example, the accreditation of laboratories used for testing the purity of recycled materials and the safety of modules for reuse, and the development of standards that are fit-for-purpose and internationally recognised.

Following on from a successful online preparatory workshop, in June 2024 our team facilitated a multi-stakeholder workshop in India with the aim of improving the QI services related to circularity in PV systems. To prepare the process, our team organised meetings and interviews with QI organisations and our partner organisation, the National Physical Laboratory of India (CSIR-NPL). Additionally, we researched relevant background information, and mapped the value chain.

Stakeholders from public and private organisations were identified and invited to collaborate. We asked international experts from German recycling and reuse startup companies, Solar Materials and Better Sol, to present the quality requirements and their methodologies. We also invited the Chief of Global Standards at Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI), to describe the Sustainable Electronics Reuse & Recycling (R2) Standard.

Our team designed and facilitated a two day face-to-face workshop in New Delhi as part of a Calidena process, which included a visit to the CSIR-NPL laboratory to see first-hand their research in PV recycling. This collaboration resulted in the identification of gaps, definition of measures for improvement, and initiated a follow-up committee to guide implementation of the measures. An action plan is being developed to create the basis for a one-year follow up by the key stakeholders. The implemented activities will contribute to increasing awareness about the need for circularity in PV systems, improve the collaboration amongst key stakeholders and foster the QI services required.

The process was conducted on behalf of the German Metrology Institute, Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), and funded by German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).