New regulations which determine what happens to old solar PV modules after their working life in the UK will come into effect in the new year.
The revised UK waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) regulations for solar PV were placed before parliament on 10 December and will now come into effect on 1 January 2014.
The WEEE regulations will see the introduction of PV panels as a new category after intense lobbying from the solar industry which fought off plans to apply a market share calculation determined by weight. Such a calculation would have left the solar industry liable for a disproportionate amount of money to comply with a law that was initially designed for smaller consumer electronic products.
David Burton, the country manager of producer compliance scheme PV Cycle UK, explained: "The regulations are traditionally focused upon ensuring collection and recycling of consumer products but not necessarily on the very nature of PV panels with their long lifecycle and B2B character. Thankfully the department of business, skills and innovation (BIS) has taken a pragmatic approach, in consultation with the PV sector, to ensure that the industry takes responsibility without damaging its long-term sustainability objectives.”
The news makes the UK the first EU member state to introduce its own national legislation ahead of the transposition deadline of mid-February. "While it's unusual to see the introduction of new regulations take effect before the legal deadline, it makes sense in this instance, as the new regulations come into force at the start of a new compliance year, which is defined on a calendar year basis, and to introduce changes part way through the year would have caused confusion and additional costs," explained Burton.
As a result of the new regulations, all companies that import solar PV panels into the UK will be required to register with a producer compliance scheme and as a consequence take financial responsibility for waste solar modules. Revised WEEE regulations from the agency will require UK PV companies to join a compliance scheme from next year.