Japan to Promote the Use of Solar Panels with Registered Information on Hazardous Materials

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Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) announced a plan to mandate that FIT/FIP-certified solar operators only use solar panels with registered information on hazardous materials. The proposed rule will apply to new feed-in tariff (FIT) and feed-in premium (FIP) certifications. The plan was announced on January 15, 2024, during the seventh meeting of the Study Group on the Disposal and Recycling of Renewable Energy Generation Facilities.

METI intends to amend the ministerial ordinance for the Act on Special Measures Concerning Procurement of Electricity from Renewable Energy Sources by Electricity Utilities (Act on Renewable Energy Special Measures) by the spring of 2024. 

In Japan, solar panel manufacturers must register models of their panels with JP-AC, an organization under the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association (JPEA), before selling their products in the country. Solar power operators then select panels from the JP-AC registration when applying for FIT or FIP certifications.

Under the proposed measure, solar panel manufacturers can choose to disclose four hazardous materials—lead, cadmium, arsenic, and selenium—when registering their products with JP-AC. Solar power operators can only select solar panels registered with information regarding hazardous materials when applying for new FIT or FIP certifications.

The new measure will be another step toward promoting recycling and proper end-of-life treatment of waste solar panels in Japan. However, the proposed rule does not cover residential solar and non-FIT/FIP systems, which will likely continue to increase in the coming decades. Furthermore, as the measure applies only to new FIT/FIP applications, further consideration is needed for installed solar panels.

Study Group on the Disposal and Recycling of Renewable Energy Generation Facilities – 7th Meeting (in Japanese)