Cash grants to repurpose solar systems

solar panels

Old solar panels and battery storage systems are being given a second life thanks to funding from the New South Wales government.

Two projects will be funded in the government’s Circular Solar program, which aims to support the development of projects that prevent solar systems ending up in landfill.

Energy Minister Matt Kean said the take-up of solar and other household renewables in NSW and Australia is among the highest in the world.

“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,” Kean said.

“While current amounts of waste are low, the volume of solar panels and associated battery storage system waste is forecast to reach 3000 to 10,000 tonnes per year by 2025 and 40,000 to 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.”

Blue Tribe is one of two projects in regional NSW to receive a grant in the first round of funding. More than $215,000 will be used to trial the use of decommissioned solar panels in a community solar project and test the feasibility of a secondary marketplace for recycled panels.

The Solar Professionals will receive almost $946,000 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 in three categories – 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.

The Circular Solar program is part of the NSW government’s plan to deliver on its election commitment to prepare the state to manage the emerging waste type by establishing a $10 million fund to reduce landfilling of solar panels and battery systems.

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