ARENA targets solar panel recycling in new $15 million funding round

Dec 11, 2019 05:20 PM ET
  • The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has established a $15 million financing round to support projects aimed at reducing the cost and quantity of waste created by solar panels which have reached the end of the lives.
ARENA targets solar panel recycling in new $15 million funding round

ARENA declared the new financing round on Wednesday, its fifth in support of solar PV development and research in Australia.

The Agency states the essential focus this time around is to end-of-life problems for solar panels, in addition to raising their efficiency and lowering their total price.

Solar panel recycling and waste management are becoming increasingly important areas of concern for the worldwide renewable energy business, as PV generation capacity continues to flourish across the globe.

In Australia, researchers in Brisbane's Griffith University have estimated that there might be 1.5 million tonnes of solar panel waste gathered from home installations exclusively by 2050.

ARENA stated the $15 million round would attempt to fund projects geared at enhancing the economics of recycling, through improved upfront design, greater price of recovered materials, as well as inventions for re-using reused or recycled elements in fresh panels.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller reported the end-of-life focus will assist the big and small-scale solar industries to manage their waste, without driving up the total cost of PV production. 

"Currently, solar PV panel recycling adds a cost to the supply chain," Miller said in remarks on Wednesday. R&D will help find innovative solutions to decrease this cost, allowing sustainable and economical management of solar panels in the end of the lifetime.

The funds will also be utilized to build on what Miller rightly describes as "Australia's excellence" in solar R&D, with a specific view to raising efficiencies and driving down costs of PV generation, even further.

This would incorporate R&D to support the "next generation" of solar technologies, using new substances with the potential to enhance cost-efficiencies or expand solar applications.

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