One of Australia’s first solar PV recycling facilities is up and running in Melbourne’s north, with video footage posted on LinkedIn on Wednesday showing the panel-crushing plant in action.
The plant, which was completed last September in Thomastown by Melbourne based co-operative Lotus Energy, claims to recycle 100% of end-of-life solar PV modules and all associated materials recovered – inverters, cables, optimisers, mounting structures – using no chemicals.
Lotus Energy confirmed this week’s operational milestone with RenewEconomy on Thursday, with more details on the plant’s capabilities and the company’s plans to come.
Lotus Energy also claims the title of Australia’s first dedicated solar panel recycling facility, although it is likely to be followed closely by Reclaim PV Recycling, which in February locked in plans to develop its first processing facility in the industrial Adelaide suburb of Lonsdale, in South Australia.
Another company, Melbourne-based Elecsome, in 2020 won a federal government grant to set up its own “first of its kind” solar panel upcycling plant – an initiative being led by industrial manufacturing company Ojas Group in partnership with RMIT and the University of Melbourne.
First or not, the arrival of any and all PV recycling facilities and businesses in Australia is very welcome, because without them the nation’s world-leading uptake of solar threatens to create a mountain of waste.
Happily, as the Australian National University’s Andrew Blakers has explained, solar panels are inherently recyclable, due to their ability to be broken down and separated into existing recycling streams. We recommend watching the video below for a highly satisfying example.