Circular solar grants program

Program snapshot

Category: Circular solar phase 2

Amounts:  $7 million available in grant funding

Eligible bodies: Business, not-for-profit organisations, councils, research institutions, government agencies and organisations.

Contact: Waste and Recycling Infrastructure Unit by phone on (02) 9895 6486 or infrastructure.grants@epa.nsw.gov.au       

Status: Closed.

Managed by: NSW Environment Protection Authority

Aims

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 Circular solar grant program supports 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.

Phase 1 of the Circular Solar grants program (trial phase) awarded $1.1 million in funding for eligible trial projects. 

Phase 2 Circular Solar funding

A total of $7million is available in Phase 2 of the Circular Solar grants program for eligible projects. Funding is available as a single stream. Project proposals can only be submitted under one of the three categories with the following funding request caps:

Funding category

Funding cap per project

1. New infrastructure and expansions

$3.5 million

2. Research and development for reuse, second hand or refurbished items, and market development for recovered materials.

$100,000 – $1 million

3. Collection and recovery logistics

$500,000 – $1 million

 

 

Circular Solar Phase 2 program priorities

  • reduce solar panel and associated battery waste entering landfill in NSW
  • promote circular economy models for managing waste at end-of-life
  • increase the capability and capacity of industry to recover and reprocess end-of-life solar panels and associated large energy storage system batteries.
  • improve the recyclability/reusability/refurbish potential by using high-value recovery and/or processing technologies
  • develop secondary markets for resources recovered from solar panels and batteries
  • update standards for reuse of solar panel and battery systems that are still functioning efficiently after being decommissioned
  • grow cost-effective recovery logistic models
  • partnerships that deliver end-to-end solutions across the whole supply chain
  • create immediate and ongoing job creation and economic activity

Circular Solar Phase 2 application process

The Circular Solar grants program will be conducted in two stages:

Stage 1
Applicants are to complete an expression of interest (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) who will recommend a shortlist of projects to progress to stage 2.

Stage 2
Only applicants shortlisted by the TRC after stage 1 will be invited to apply for stage 2. Applicants have six weeks from notification of their shortlisting to develop their final grant application, complete a detailed budget and cost-benefit and financial analysis. The TRC will assess the final applications and accompanying documents against the assessment criteria and recommend projects to the EPA for funding.

Phase 1 grant recipients (trial phase)

Blue Tribe Co. Pty. Limited
$217,800
The Second-Life Solar project will establish a small community-based solar garden using decommissioned yet serviceable solar panels, that would otherwise have been destined for landfill.

The project will develop a business model and testing methodology to activate a secondary marketplace for decommissioned solar panels. This will extend the solar panels service life, offer an alternative to premature waste disposal of decommissioned panels, divert serviceable solar panels from landfill, provide clean energy and a source of income to solar gardeners, and contribute to NSW’s renewable energy target.

KGM Services trading as The Solar Professionals
$935,750
The project, Repurposing, recycling and upcycling of solar PV cells via delamination, will drive the accelerated deployment of sustainable end to end solution of solar cells. This will be done through panel testing, collection and distribution that allows for re-use of functional cells in domestic and international markets. Unfunctional solar cells will be delaminated into uncontaminated solar cell components, which will be designed, engineered, constructed and trialled in collaboration with Deakin University and a glass delamination expert. The product of the glass and frame will be trailed as a construction material in commercial glasshouses.

Phase 1 application process (trial phase)

Full eligibility criteria for the Phase 1 grants program (trial phase) is detailed in the application forms and guidelines.

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.
Page last updated