The South Korean government’s renewable energy deployment plan aims to increase the share of electricity generated from renewables to 20% by 2030. To reach this goal, the rate of photovoltaic (PV) installation will accelerate in the coming years. This energy transition creates a new challenge: PV wastes. This study estimates the amount of PV waste generated, the material composition of PV waste, and the amount of recyclable metals in South Korea by 2080 under four different scenarios (combining shape parameters of 5.3759 [regular-loss] and 3.5 [early-loss] with PV module lifespans of 25 and 30 years) using the Weibull distribution function. The annual waste generated will fluctuate over time depending on the scenario, but between 4299 and 5764 thousand tons of PV waste will have been generated by 2080. Under the early-loss/25-year lifespan scenario, annual PV waste generation will increase to exceed 130,000 tons in 2045, then decrease through 2063 before increasing once again. The fluctuation in annual PV waste generation appears stronger under regular-loss scenarios. An appropriate system for the monitoring, collection, and storage of PV waste needs to be arranged even before the volume becomes high enough for recycling to be economically viable. International cooperation could be a way to maintain the PV waste stream at an economically feasible scale. It would also be a good idea if the PV module could be designed in a way that would enable easier recycling or reuse.
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