The amendment places solar panels in the category of class 4 electrical devices. Overall, there are 10 waste classes and, prior to the amendment, class 4 was limited to consumer appliances. The amendment states that, as class 4 devices, solar panels must now be disposed of in line with rules applicable to e-waste. Not just solar parks
Solar panel manufacturers will be responsible for disposing of any solar panels on the market after 1 January 2013, but for panels on the market before that date the obligation lies with individual solar power plant operators.
If an image of a huge solar park with hundreds or thousands of solar panels comes to mind when considering the term “solar power plant”, think again. Not only are you mistaken, but you may even be caught off guard when state inspectors come knocking at your door. All holders of a license to generate electricity using solar energy, including homeowners who instal a single photovoltaic panel on their roof, are deemed to be solar power plant operators and, as such, have certain disposal obligations regarding e-waste (this does not apply to SWH collectors). Stand-alone power systems that are not connected to the grid and, as a result, do not require an energy license are, however, excluded under the Waste Act. What does the law require?
All solar power plant operators are required to conclude a contract with a licensed collection system operator by the end of June 2013. According to the Waste Act, the purpose of the agreement is “to ensure the availability of financing for transferring solar panel waste for processing, use, and disposal”. In addition, the financing should take the form of equal contributions paid in instalments on an at least annual basis as of 1 January 2014.
In lay terms, each solar power plant operator is required to set aside funds for properly disposing of its solar panels in an eco-friendly way once the equipment has reached the end of its lifecycle. The fee will be determined by each collection system operator based on the weight and composition of the waste. 50 million crown penalty
Any breach of the Waste Act constitutes an administrative offence with all of its consequences, including a penalty of up to CZK
50 million. This applies to virtually all solar operators. Hence, theoretically speaking, even a bunch of boy scouts could be fined CZK
50 million crowns by the Czech Environmental Inspectorate for installing two solar panels on the roof of their clubhouse.
Therefore, it is wise to double check whether you are – even by accident – a licensed solar power operator. It is estimated that there may be over 13,000 operators in the Czech Republic. If you hold a license, now is the time to act. As they say, the devil – and the Czech Environmental Inspectorate – never sleeps.