Australia, Policy, Projects, Renewables, Solar, Solar

Urgent calls for national solar panel recycling infrastructure

A new report from the Australian Centre of Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP) is highligting the need for large-scale solar panel recycling infrastructure across the country.

‘Scoping study: Solar panel end-of-life management in Australia’, commissioned by renewable energy giant Neoen Australia, predicts solar photovoltaic (PV) waste volumes will increase to 100,000 tonnes annually by 2030.

According to the study, cumulative decommissioned panel volumes are expected to reach one million tonnes by 2035 – far sooner than previously estimated.

To address this looming challenge, the report recommends building large recycling facilities in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide by 2027. These metropolitan hubs would initially need to process 5000–10,000 tonnes of panels per year, doubling their capacity within six years.

“Establishing domestic PV waste management facilities presents an opportunity for resource recovery and job creation,” ACAP Executive Director Professor Renate Egan said.

“Solar panels contain valuable materials like aluminum, glass and silicon that should be recycled, not sent to landfill.”

Dr Rong Deng, one of the report’s authors, emphasised that more than 80 per cent of waste by 2030 will come from residential rooftop systems due to Australia’s early adoption of small-scale solar.

“In the next 12 years, we need a management framework, accessible collection and new recycling technologies to transform this challenge into economic opportunities,” Deng said.

The study advises the new facilities focus exclusively on comprehensive solar panel recycling processes to maximise material recovery and recycling rates. However, it notes significant challenges around lacking markets for recycled materials like glass.

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