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Supporting R&D to improve end-of-life issues for solar panels

2 October 2020

Joint media release with Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans

The Morrison Government is partnering with leading Australian universities to support new research projects that include addressing end-of-life issues for solar PV panels.

The solar PV sector in Australia does not currently have a sustainable solution for managing used solar panels at the end of their life.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said with around 12 gigawatts of small-scale solar PV systems and over 5.7 gigawatts of large-scale solar now installed in Australia, developing end-of-life options for solar PV panels is a priority to minimise future waste problems.

“Solar power is playing an increasing role in Australia’s energy mix,” Minister Taylor said.

“Australia is a world leader in the renewable sector, with around one in four Australian households having installed solar panels.

“Managing used solar panels at the end of their life is an emerging issue and why the Government is backing Australian researchers to find ways to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of solar PV technologies while also reducing waste.”

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans, said that the volume of photovoltaic system equipment reaching its end-of-life is set to become one of Australia’s largest electronic waste streams in coming years.

“That’s why the Morrison Government is tackling this emerging problem using the best technology available, as part of our broader plan to transform Australia’s recycling and waste sectors”.

The Government is providing $15.14 million through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to support research teams at six Australian universities.

This is the first time ARENA has funded projects to address end-of-life solar PV issues. 

The research aims to address this emerging issue by focussing on reducing the cost of sustainably managing panels at the end of their life, either through better upfront design, increasing the value of recovered materials, or by repurposing recycled components.

The funding is expected to help create more than 50 full-time equivalent jobs across 16 research and development (R&D) projects over the next two years.

Funding has been awarded to research teams at the Australian National University, Macquarie University, University of Melbourne, University of New South Wales, University of Sydney and Swinburne University.

Media contact:

Minister Taylor's office: 02 6277 7120