Thursday, 12 December 2019 10:54

$15 million fund launched to address solar panel end-of-life issues Featured

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$15 million fund launched to address solar panel end-of-life issues Image Ben Schonewille

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has established a $15 million fund to support research that aims to address end-of-life issues for solar PV panels, as well as increasing their efficiency and lowering their cost.

ARENA says that, in addition to end-of-life issues, the funding round will also aim to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of solar PV for new or established applications.

“As the rate of solar PV deployment increases, innovations that can reduce the cost of sustainably managing panels at the end of their life will become more important,” says ARENA.

“The round is seeking to fund projects that can improve the economics of recycling, such as with better upfront design, increasing the value of recovered materials, or even innovations for re-using reused or recycled components in new panels.

“Cost savings will enable both large-scale solar PV projects and roof-top PV customers to responsibly manage their waste, without significantly impacting the overall cost of renewable electricity generation.”

ARENA’s fifth round of research and development (R&D) supports solar PV in the following areas:

  • end-of-life: new solutions, including upfront solar PV panel designs and end of life processing, that increase the cost-effectiveness of sustainable end-of-life management of solar PV panels
  • advanced silicon: improvements to the overall cost-effectiveness of silicon-based panels already in mass market production, and their production processes
  • tandem silicon: increasing the cost-effectiveness of silicon-based solar PV through the use of tandem materials
  • new materials: development of new materials with the potential to either reach breakthrough cost-efficiencies, or the potential for new deployment applications.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said: “Currently, solar PV panel recycling adds a cost to the supply chain. R&D can help find innovative solutions to reduce this cost, enabling sustainable and cost effective management of solar panels at the end of their life.”

“The funding round also aims to build on Australia’s excellence in solar PV R&D, to increase efficiencies and drive down costs even further and help bring about the next generation in solar technology.

“More efficient and lower cost solar PV can underpin the growth of a renewable hydrogen industry, can drive the electrification of transport and industrial processes, and can reduce the costs of delivering secure and reliable renewable electricity.”

ARENA says it has provided more than $290 million to around 300 solar research and development projects since 2009 through funding programs inherited from the Australian Solar Institute, or run by ARENA since 2012, including $84 million in funding to the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP) to continue its research operations until 2022.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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