Micro Energy Systems Australia [MESA] are currently working with the Macquarie Bank team [as part of SEFA’s leadership program] to develop business case to establish a Solar recycling Initiative under a Not For Profit Social Enterprise arrangement.
The MESA team say "In the meantime we also have opportunity to apply for grant funding for a 2 year pilot project which would see a community accessible hub set up in the Eurobodalla to prove feasibility for the venture.
"The hub would accept used solar panels and associated components, effectively intercepting them prior to reaching landfill.
"A percentage of the equipment would then be tested, certified and put back into the working stream with warranty. Systems would be packaged together for households directly impacted by the Black Summer bushfires, low income households and for use with small off grid and camping applications.
"Some of the re-classified components that have not yet reached their true end of life will be re-purposed into functional items such as kennels, feeding stations, garden sheds, tables, furniture, charging stations etc.
"The initiative is expected to create innovative new industry for our region offering employment and training opportunities as well as the potential to save the local council and constituents considerable money under proposed recycling models. It is important to note it is likely that the cost for disposal at a landfill site of around $30 per panel will probably be passed on to the installer or consumer seeking disposal. This will significantly impact the cost of working in the industry for installers.
"The venture would also provide opportunity for private Industry and community organisations to work together to further benefit the community and the environment. "By 2050 its been estimated that there will be 1,532,000 tons of Solar panel waste in Australia, destined for landfill.
"However, these figures are likely set to rise exponentially with the increasing uptake of Renewable Energy in response to emergency climate change mandates and rapid Industry growth.
"This problem is an issue in our region which has seen large numbers of Solar systems being discarded prematurely as a result of partial damage inflicted by bushfires and storms.
Lisa and Steve of the Mesa Team have put together a Change.Org petition where the community can communicate their support of the project saying "With your support we have the opportunity to put in place a 2-year pilot program to prove the feasibility for intercepting discarded solar waste prior to materials recycling.
"The Initiative proposes the collection, processing, reclassification, and application of warranty for resale of these useful solar components back to the community. This initiative offers the potential for considerable savings to our local councils and constituents and will create employment and training opportunities whilst offering low-cost solar installations to those in need.
"If you feel that this petition is worthy of your support it will gain traction, and as a member of the community you may witness the development of an innovative response to address some of the challenges we are facing here in regional NSW.