Circular solar trials - expression of interest

Expressions of interest for Circular solar trials grants closed on 17 September 2020.

Purpose

It is forecast that NSW will generate 3,000 - 10,000 tonnes per year of waste solar PV panels and battery storage systems by 2025, rising to 40,000 – 71,000 tonnes per year by 2035. To prepare for this emerging waste stream, the EPA seeks expressions of interest (EOIs) to establish collaborative ‘whole-of-supply chain’ projects that trial managing end-of-life solar panels and/or battery systems within a circular economy framework.

Available funding

The NSW Government has created a $10 million fund to reduce landfilling of solar panels and battery systems. This investment is intended to future-proof the management of this growing waste stream and help NSW transition to renewable energy sources within a circular economy.

The Circular Solar trials grants program is the first phase of this recycling fund. A total of $2 million is available under the Circular solar trials grant program for eligible projects. Funding will be administered by the EPA and successful projects will be determined using a staged approach outlined in the EOI funding and eligibility section below.

Application process

The EPA is conducting the Circular Solar trials grants program in two stages

Stage 1
Applicants completed the EOI Stage 1 form, outlining the proposed project including activities to be delivered and partners who will participate in the delivery of the project. Applications will be assessed by an independent technical review committee (TRC) which will recommend projects to progress to Stage 2.

Stage 2
Only applicants who have been shortlisted after Stage 1 will be invited to apply for Stage 2. This stage is scheduled to open in October 2020 once Stage 1 applications have been assessed. Applicants will have four weeks from notification of their success in Stage 1 to develop their project plan, formalise networks and complete a detailed budget. The TRC will assess the detailed project plan and accompanying documents against the Stage 2 criteria and recommend projects for funding.

Full eligibility criteria is detailed in the program guidelines below.

Application forms and guidelines

Information session

Future funding opportunities  

Further funding opportunities will be offered at a later stage. Priorities for future funding rounds will likely include

  • scaling up of EOI programs
  • new recycling/reuse infrastructure
  • collection models
  • research
  • market development.

Applications for future grant funding will not be restricted to organisations that have applied for or received funding in this Circular solar trials grants program round.

The EPA invites interested parties to contact the Infrastructure team to discuss your ideas for both the trial funding and future solar recovery grant funding. This may include

  • discussing your project needs and how they align with the EPA’s goals and priorities
  • clarifying eligibility of projects or project activities
  • determining whether your project is more appropriate for trial funding or for future solar recovery funding opportunities. 

Please note that EPA staff are not able to provide detailed advice or assistance on how to respond to EOI form questions or budget templates.  

For more information contact the Waste and Recycling Infrastructure Unit at infrastructure.grants@epa.nsw.gov.au or 02 9895 6486.

Background information and research findings

While volumes of waste solar panels and battery storage systems are currently relatively low, this emerging waste stream is expected to rapidly increase over the next decade as installed systems reach their end of life. 

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment commissioned a scoping study (PDF 3.8MB) to assist in development of the EPA’s end-of-life solar programs. It contains information that may help organisations preparing EOIs, including

  • projected waste generation volumes
  • materials that can be recovered from solar panels and batteries
  • reuse and recycling technologies
  • end-market opportunities
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