Solar panel recycling plant coming to NSW?

Energy provider AGL and solar panel recycling company ElecSome are looking to establish a solar panel recycling plant in New South Wales. The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to conduct a feasibility study into building the plant at AGL’s Hunter Energy Hub Bayswater e-Recycling Precinct.

The study will also assess whether it is feasible for the two companies to build a solar cable manufacturing plant at the same location. It will determine the engineering and infrastructure requirements, as well as the key environmental and regulatory approvals required for the development, construction, and operation of both facilities.

If developed, the recycling plant would be ElecSome’s first commercial-scale solar panel recycling facility in NSW. The plant is expected to upcycle up to 500,000 residential and grid-scale solar panels per year.  

Concrete plans

ElecSome has developed a patented technology to use the glass that makes up over 70 per cent of a solar panel to create a pre-mixed concrete for building driveways and footpaths. The glass from these degraded panels serves as a substitute for sand, a component of concrete whose processing has a huge environmental impact. This product will form part of the feasibility study at the Hunter site. 

The solar cable manufacturing plant is expected to produce up to 20,000km of solar cable per year. The companies would use these cables in residential and commercial solar installations, as well as utility-scale solar farms.  

If successful, the new plants will provide around 20 jobs during the two-year construction phase, and around 50 jobs when fully operational.  

Solar energy value chain

AGL General Manager, Energy Hubs Travis Hughes says AGL’s vision for the Hunter Energy Hub is starting to take shape, with partners from across the renewables value chain signing deals with AGL in the past year.  

“Since the closure of Liddell Power Station one year ago, we have signed MoUs that could bring battery recycling with Renewable Metals and solar panel manufacturing with SunDrive to the Hunter Energy Hub,” Huges says. “Today we add solar panel recycling and solar cable manufacturing to that list of partners.

“If successful, the establishment of a solar panel recycling plant and solar cable manufacturing plant with ElecSome will mean we are hosting several parts of the solar energy value chain with both manufacturing and recycling of grid-scale and residential solar panels at the Hunter Energy Hub.” 

ElecSome CEO Neeraj Das says: “We are thrilled to join the Hunter Energy Hub and contribute to the journey toward net zero, while also advancing resource recovery and onshore manufacturing.”

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