ARENA targets to support research in solar panel recycling

On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced up to AUD 15 million (USD 10.2 million) in funding 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. »As the rate of solar PV deployment increases, innovations that can reduce the cost of sustainability managing panels at the end of their life will become more important,« says the agency. 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.«
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. This is the first time that ARENA has sought applications for addressing solutions to end-of-life solar PV issues.
ARENA’s fifth round of R&D includes research in 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; improvements to the overall cost-effectiveness of silicon-based panels already in mass market production, and their production processes; increasing the cost-effectiveness of silicon-based solar PV through the use of tandem materials; and development of new materials with the potential to either reach breakthrough cost-efficiencies, or the potential for new deployment applications.
According to the agency, ARENA has provided more than AUD 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 AUD 84 million in funding to the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP) to continue its research operations until 2022.

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