A $10 million program has been launched in Victoria to tackle solar panel recycling.
Breakthrough Victoria, a company that manages a $2 billion fund set up by the Victorian government to make the state a global leader in innovation, has announced the $10 Million Solar Waste Challengeto invest in solutions for reducing waste from solar energy.
More than 187,000 tons of solar panels are expected to end up in Victoria’s waste stream by 2035. Solar Homes Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said there are currently limited options available for managing and recycling solar panel waste.
“Our Solar Waste Challenge is an example of how we are partnering with industry and innovators in our industry-leading clean energy transition, while proactively addressing potential environmental impacts,” she said.
Start-up innovators can apply to Breakthrough Victoria for investment financing to develop new or improved technology for recycling or reusing solar panels.
The panels have an average lifespan of 15 to 25 years before they need to be replaced due to technological progress, damage or reduced efficiency. Australia has more than three million rooftop solar installations nationally and sales are expected to increase in the coming years, potentially creating a huge waste problem.
Breakthrough Victoria CEO Grant Dooley said they are looking for new, commercial and scalable solutions that create high-quality products from discarded panels to reduce landfill, including ways to maximize harvesting of materials to create new, high-quality products.
Valuable components such as silicon and silver can potentially be harvested and reused for other industrial applications.
“The Breakthrough Victoria Challenge encourages solar and recycling experts across the spectrum of science, technology and infrastructure to seek creative solutions to unlock value in solar panel disposal and recycling,” he said.
“End-of-life solar panels embody the circular economy challenge facing the industry, but also the opportunity to turn a waste stream into a commercial product and create a strong market for the solar panel recycling industry. This is a first step to accelerate and scale up a commercially viable solar panel recycling system in Victoria.”
Details about the The Solar Waste Challenge is here,