New South Wales, News, Waste & Resource Recovery

Funds given to recycle solar panels

Old solar panels and battery storage systems are being given a second life due to funding from the NSW Government that will boost the state’s capacity to manage solar system waste.

Energy Minister, Matt Kean, said the Circular Solar program is about supporting the development of new and innovative re-use projects that prevent these systems ending up in landfill. It is all part of the state’s push for a more circular economy.

“The take-up of solar and other household renewables in NSW and Australia is among the highest in the world,” Kean said. “That huge take-up of cheap, reliable, renewable energy means we have a rapidly increasing waste stream as panels reach the end of their operational life.

“While current amounts of waste are low, the volume of these panels and associated battery storage system waste is forecast to reach 3,000 – 10,000 tonnes per year by 2025 and 40,000 – 71,000 tonnes per year by 2035.

“Now is the time to invest in developing systems for collecting, recycling and re-using so we can keep these valuable resources out of the tip and drive a productive circular economy.”

Two projects in regional NSW have already received grants in the first round of funding, including:

  • More than $215,000 for Blue Tribe to trial the use of decommissioned the panels in a community solar project and test the feasibility of a secondary marketplace for recycled panels; and
  • Almost $946,000 for The Solar Professionals to develop technology that dismantles end-of-life solar panels into uncontaminated components and test the use of solar panel glass in greenhouses.

A second round of grant funding will open in September for projects under three categories, which are as follows:

  • new and expanded infrastructure;
  • research and development for reuse, second hand or refurbished items, and market development for recovered materials; or
  • collection and recovery logistics.