Solar power just got even greener with the news that a national recovery and recycling facility is opening in Adelaide. Reclaim PV Recycling has secured approval to build a dedicated solar panel recycling facility in Lonsdale, South Australia. The company will also establish a number of drop-off locations around the country, making it easy for all Australians to recycle end-of-life solar panels.
Australia has the highest rate of rooftop solar in the world (on a per capita basis), with 21 per cent of all Australian homes generating power from rooftop solar PV. The latest figures show that over 2.66 million rooftop solar power systems had been installed across the country as of 31 December 2020. With an average lifespan of 21 years, it is crucial to develop recycling and reuse solutions for Australia's rooftop solar.
“The establishment of a national recovery and recycling network is an absolute necessity for the PV industry and for Australia which already has a solar panel disposal challenge on its hands," Clive Fleming, Director of Reclaim PV Recycling, said in a statement.
"Reclaim PV is committed to providing an end-to-end solution to meet this challenge and to the responsible recovery and recycling of end-of-life solar panels." Reclaim PV has set the initial goal of recycling 70,000 solar panels in its first year of operation. The company is also doing a call out for businesses to join its national network of recyclers by signing up as an official drop-off location for solar panel recycling. Once these businesses have collected a certain number of solar panels, Reclaim PV will pick them up for processing at its Adelaide facility. The company also plans to build similar recycling facilities in other cities over the coming years.
Reclaim PV uses a form of thermal deconstruction called Pyrolysis to recover the valuable materials found in solar panels. The panels are heated a furnace so that components, which include aluminium, glass, copper, plastics, silver and silicon, can be separated and sent to materials companies for reuse.
“Waste is never waste. It is a resource and we just need to treat it as such. This is the key concept of the circular economy – that nothing is wasted and everything is re-used as part of a continuous cycle. But this doesn’t work unless we’re all playing our part," Mr Fleming said.
"Our vision is for Reclaim PV to be the catalyst to bring Government, businesses and consumers together in this relatively young industry to both create and accelerate the end-to-end recovery and recycling of solar panels. Together, we can make a significant difference for many generations to come.”
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