End-of-life management in solar energy access projects

Enabling universal access to modern and clean forms of energy (SDG 7) ranks high on the global agenda and is supported by various donors and implementing organisations. Through these efforts, large numbers of energy access installations such as solar home systems and mini-grids are being deployed. While this yields multiple socio-economic benefits, it also brings new waste management challenges to rural and remote communities: Once obsolete many components turn into hazardous waste that require separate collection and adequate treatment. However, modern waste management systems are still widely absent in most off-grid areas. While this situation is recognised by many donors and implementing partners, the topic of sound e-waste management is complex and encompasses many technical, legal, logistical and economic aspects.

This measures catalogue aims at supporting planners, managers and operators of solar energy access projects in planning, designing and conducting waste related activities with a view of mitigating hazardous waste and pollution risks associated with the life-cycles of energy access projects. To do so, it provides an overview of the end-of-life (EoL) environmental and safety challenges from solar off-grid equipment. It also introduces the ethical and economic background of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and presents the major entry points for improved EoL management of solar system components.