In another step towards its nationwide rollout, Solar Recovery Corporation has partnered with Victoria’s Gannawarra Shire Council to provide free local solar panel recycling services.
Gannawarra Shire in the Loddon Murray area of Victoria is located approximately 3 hours drive from Melbourne. It is home to approximately 10,683 people; nearly half of them live in Kerang. It also houses many solar panels considering its population.
“Installation of photovoltaic systems, such as solar panels, inverters and batteries, is happening in record numbers nationwide, including here in Gannawarra,” said Council CEO, Tom O’Reilly.
When we arrived in July/August 2018, there were about 719 small-scale solar power systems in Kerang postcode; representing 3.83 MW of capacity. This grew to around 1,008 small-scale systems with a collective capacity of 6,803 kW at the end of July this year.
Across Gannawarra Shire there are approximately 2,000 photovoltaic systems installed; the vast majority of which is less than 10kW.
“With solar panels having an average lifespan of 21 years, it is important that systems are in place now to accept the recycling of these items, which are classified as electronic waste and cannot be disposed of via landfill,” said Mr. O’Reilly.
Good quality solar panels should have a much longer lifespan, but a lot shorter in the case of crappy solar power – and sadly there have been plenty of those in Australia. So there is already a need for recycling options; especially given Victoria’s e-waste landfill ban.
While some councils charge for panel disposal services – particularly if they end up in a landfill – unwanted modules will be accepted free of charge at Gannawarra Shire council transfer stations located in Cohuna, Kerang, Lalbert and Quambatook . The panels will then be shipped to a Solar Recovery Corporation facility for processing.
99+% material recovery claimed
Solar recovery company is one of several players to have launched module recycling/materials recovery operations in Australia, and boasts a material recovery rate of over 99%.
One of the interesting aspects of its recovery process is shredding, crushing, hydrometallurgy, chemicals, heat treatment or pyrolysis which are apparently not used for material separation. Mechatronic equipment separates the aluminum frame, junction box and cables from the panel, and additional robotics complete the dismantling and sorting.
The company has partnered with La Mia Energia (LME), which has been recovering end-of-life solar panels in Europe for 12 years.
“Solar Recovery Corporation will take all solar panels destined for recycling, separate all materials and package them for reuse in different industrial sectors,” O’Reilly said.
By “all” it is unclear whether this includes panels dropped off by installers. A similar recent agreement with the City of Greater Bendigo does not allow for installer deposit, nor does it include broken or broken modules.
Although Gannawarra is currently a small potato for Solar Recovery Corporation, it may have its sights set on the future by establishing a foothold there. The County is also home to the 60MW Gannawarra Solar Farm, which began operations in 2017. There are many other large Photovoltaic projects still on the table for the LGA, all of whom will need a panel removal service at some point.