As the renewables revolution has accelerated, e-waste problems with solar panels and batteries have emerged.
A new round of grants from the NSW government aims to prevent these items going to landfill.
Although current waste volumes are relatively low, this emerging waste stream is expected to rapidly increase over the next decade as installed systems reach their end-of-life.
In NSW it is forecast that this waste stream could generate up to 10,000 tonnes per year by 2025 and up to 71,000 tonnes per year by 2035.
Yesterday the Environment Protection Authority announced it will be investing $10 million to help improve environmental performance by diverting end-of-life solar panel systems from landfill. The first round of grants is now open.
EPA Director (Circular Economy) Kathy Giunta said the investment in recycling through this Circular Solar grants program would help NSW meet its commitment of net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.
‘While current amounts of waste are low, now is the time to invest in developing systems for collecting and recycling these valuable resources like scarce and rare metals, including lithium batteries,’ Ms Giunta said.
‘We want to recycle and re-use the materials in solar panels and battery systems as NSW transitions towards cleaner energy and this program is an important step in building a productive circular economy in NSW.
‘It will see NSW well placed to manage waste solar systems over the coming years and will stimulate much needed job creation in the solar power and recycling sectors,’ she said.
The NSW government is now inviting Expressions of Interest for grants to run trial projects that increase the collection, reuse and recycling of solar panel and battery storage systems.
How to apply
Applications for projects that trial whole of supply chain approaches to collecting and reusing and/or recycling can be made until 17 September 2020.
$2 million is available in this funding round, with the remaining funding to be made available following evaluation of this process.
For more information visit https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/working-together/grants/infrastructure-fund/circular-solar-trials-expression-of-interest or email [email protected]