Australia’s first dedicated solar panel recycling plant is now operational in Thomastown; a 30-minute drive north of Melbourne CBD. Whether you’ve installed solar or not, panel recycling is something that you might not have thought about in the past. Solar power systems generally last around 25 years (or even longer); so, it’s something you don’t have to worry about until it’s time to replace your system. Just to confirm, the 25-year timeframe doesn’t mean your system will just stop working after this time, but it can become less efficient the more time that passes.

What’s the Go?

The way we dispose of solar panels in Australia has been a hot topic of discussion in the industry in 2021. Our solar boom happened in around 2010. This means that over the next few years, the way that Aussies dispose of old and used systems will be under the spotlight.

That’s where recycling facilities, such as the latest one in Thomastown, come in handy… and hopefully we get some more! The Thomastown facility has been built and opened by Melbourne-based company Lotus Energy; who are claiming to recycle 100% of solar power systems that are at the end of their life. This includes the works, from inverters and cables through to the mounting structures; all while using no chemicals. Thomastown will soon be joined by Lonsdale, South Australia as the second dedicated Australian solar panel recycling facility. However, the South Australian facility will be opened by Reclaim PV Recycling, who are also exploring the possibility of a Queensland location.

Are There Any Similar Facilities in Australia?

There are quite a few companies around Australia working to keep solar panels and system components out of landfill. They’re doing this by finding new ways to repurpose panels that are still useable, before then recycling what they can from the remaining components. We’ve found two of these facilities besides the ones mentioned above; being WA Solar Recycling (based in Western Australia) and PV Industries (based in New South Wales).

Why Are These Facilities Necessary?

Solar has been hugely popular around Australia over the last couple of years. The CSIRO recently analysed data that showed installations rising by 28% between 2019 and 2021. It’s great news, but the increased uptake of solar in Australia doesn’t come without its challenges. Due to the popularity of rooftop solar, we could see a huge amount of wastage. This would especially be the case if there aren’t sufficient solar system recycling facilities available around the 25-year mark. With that in mind, it’s also great news to see these new facilities and plants popping up around the country.

Repurposing Solar Panels

It’s important that we start to look at ways to lessen the number of solar panels and system components going to landfill. We’re crossing our fingers and toes that more of these facilities open up around the country in the coming years, but we know some Aussies are doing things a bit differently.

In some cases, solar panels still have plenty of life left in them when they are taken off a roof. Some Aussies repurpose them for a bunch of different things; from greenhouses to caravans and camping trips, there are some amazing ways it can be done. Find us on social media and let us know if you’ll be recycling your panels or repurposing them for a cool project!