Solar Panel Recycling in 2023

Solar panel recycling is the process of recovering and reusing materials from end-of-life solar panels. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), recycling solar panels could recover up to 78 million tonnes of raw materials by 2050. This would help reduce the environmental impact of solar panels and extend their lifespan.

Issues with Solar Panel Recycling

One of the biggest challenges in solar panel recycling is the complexity of the process. Solar panels are made up of several different materials, including glass, aluminum, silicon, copper, and plastic. These materials are difficult to separate and recycle, which makes the process both time-consuming and expensive. Furthermore, the lack of a standardized recycling process for solar panels has resulted in varying levels of efficiency and effectiveness across different recycling facilities.

Another challenge with solar panel recycling is the lack of infrastructure to support it. The vast majority of solar panels are not recycled, and as a result, they end up in landfills. According to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), only 9% of solar panels installed in the US in 2016 were recycled. This highlights the need for more investment in solar panel recycling infrastructure.

Solar Panel Recycling Companies

Despite the challenges, several companies are leading the way in solar panel recycling. One of these companies is First Solar, which has a recycling program that recovers up to 90% of the materials in their solar panels. Another company is PV Cycle, which has a network of recycling facilities across Europe that recycle solar panels at the end of their life.

Research for the Future of Solar Panel Recycling

Researchers are also working on new technologies to make solar panel recycling more efficient and cost-effective. For example, researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia have developed a method for recycling silicon-based solar panels that could recover 95% of the materials. This method uses a combination of mechanical, thermal, and chemical processes to separate the materials.

Another promising area of research is the use of robots to automate the recycling process. Researchers at the University of Cambridge in the UK have developed a robot that can disassemble solar panels and recover the materials. This robot could significantly reduce the time and cost of solar panel recycling.


Solar panel recycling is an important part of the transition to a more sustainable energy system. However, the current lack of infrastructure and the complexity of the process pose significant challenges. To overcome these challenges, more investment is needed in solar panel recycling infrastructure, and research into new technologies is crucial. As more solar panels reach the end of their life, it is essential that we address this issue to minimize the environmental impact and maximize the potential of solar energy.

  1. International Energy Agency (IEA). (2020). “End-of-Life Management of Solar Photovoltaic Panels.”
  2. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). (2019). “Life Cycle Assessment Harmonization Project: Final Report.”
  3. First Solar. (2021). “Recycling.”
  4. PV Cycle. (2021). “Solar Panel Recycling.”
  5. University of New South Wales. (2020). “UNSW Scientists Develop Efficient Method to Recover High-Quality Silicon from Photovoltaic Panels.”
  6. University of Cambridge. (2020). “New Robot to Disassemble Solar Panels Could Revolutionize Recycling.”
  7. SolarPower Europe. (2021). “Solar Sustainability Best Practices Mark: Module Recycling.”
  8. The Guardian. (2021). “Recycling Solar Panels Is Complicated and Expensive. Could a New Innovation Change That?”

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The biggest solar power plants in Queensland.

Over the years, the state has seen a significant increase in solar power plants as it aims to transition to a more sustainable energy future. In this article, we will take a closer look at 7 of the biggest solar power plants in Queensland.

  1. Western Downs Green Power Hub Located in Chinchilla, this solar power plant has a capacity of 400 MW and covers an area of 540 hectares. It is currently the largest solar power plant in Queensland and one of the largest in the country. The project was developed by Neoen and completed in 2020. The solar farm generates enough electricity to power 235,000 homes annually. Visit their website here: Western Downs Green Power Hub
  2. Haughton Solar Farm Located in the Burdekin Shire, this solar power plant has a capacity of 500 MW and covers an area of 1,200 hectares. The project is being developed by Pacific Hydro and is expected to be completed in 2023. Once completed, the solar farm will generate enough electricity to power 180,000 homes annually. Visit their website here: Haughton Solar Farm
  3. Western Downs Solar Project Located in Dalby, this solar power plant has a capacity of 350 MW and covers an area of 540 hectares. The project was developed by Neoen and completed in 2019. The solar farm generates enough electricity to power 235,000 homes annually. Visit their website here: Western Downs Solar Project
  4. Brigalow Solar Farm Located in the Western Downs Region, this solar power plant has a capacity of 120 MW and covers an area of 160 hectares. The project was developed by Lighthouse Infrastructure and completed in 2019. The solar farm generates enough electricity to power 36,000 homes annually. Visit their website here: Brigalow Solar Farm
  5. Ross River Solar Farm Located in Townsville, this solar power plant has a capacity of 148 MW and covers an area of 202 hectares. The project was developed by Palisade Investment Partners and ESCO Pacific and was completed in 2018. The solar farm generates enough electricity to power 54,000 homes annually. Visit their website here: Ross River Solar Farm
  6. Clare Solar Farm Located in Ayr, this solar power plant has a capacity of 100 MW and covers an area of 120 hectares. The project was developed by Fotowatio Renewable Ventures and completed in 2018. The solar farm generates enough electricity to power 42,000 homes annually. Visit their website here: Clare Solar Farm
  7. Kidston Solar Project Located in Kidston, this solar power plant has a capacity of 50 MW and covers an area of 160 hectares. The project was developed by Genex Power and completed in 2017. The solar farm generates enough electricity to power 26,484 homes annually. Visit their website here: Kidston Solar Project

In addition to these solar farms, there are many other solar projects currently being developed in Queensland, with the state aiming to reach its target of 50% renewable energy by 2030.

It is clear that solar power has a bright future in Queensland, as the state continues to invest in large-scale solar projects and pave the way for a cleaner, more sustainable energy future. With its abundant sunshine and vast open spaces, it’s no surprise that Queensland is leading the charge in solar energy in Australia.

As the world continues to shift towards renewable energy, it’s exciting to see the progress being made in Queensland, and it will be interesting to see what new solar projects will be developed in the years to come.

If you’re interested in learning more about solar power in Queensland or how you can make the switch to renewable energy, there are many resources available online, including the Queensland Government’s official website on renewable energy.

In conclusion, Queensland is home to some of the biggest solar power plants in the country, with the top 10 solar farms listed above leading the way in generating clean, renewable energy for the state. With more solar projects in the pipeline, Queensland is well on its way to achieving its ambitious renewable energy targets and creating a more sustainable future for generations to come.


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RCR Tomlinson Solar Farm Writedowns

Australian solar contracting company RCR Tomlinson has taken a $57m write down on the Daydream solar farm and the Hayman solar farm, which are owned by Edify Energy and to be installed in North Queensland.

RCR Tomlinson Solar Farm Writedown

We reported earlieir this year on the Hayman and Daydream solar farms and how First Solar will be handling the installation for Edify – at that time everything looked rosy but it appears that a couple of major factors have led to cost and time delays. Edify have cited “external” delays, bad weather, and local issues like poor ground quality.  Also being blamed are the increasingly stricter requirements being imposed by the Australian Energy Market Operator which are affecting solar farms Australia-wide. 

RCR Tomlinison Daydream solar farm in Collinsville, Queensland.
RCR Tomlinson -Daydream solar farm in Collinsville, Queensland. (source:

As of last year, RCR have over half a Gigawatt of large-scale solar projects in their order book and over a Gigawatt currently being developed or progressed under early contractor involvement processes, according RCR Managing Director & CEO, Dr Paul Dalgleish (who has since left RCR). As a result of the writedown RCR are now attempting to raise $100m from investors and have had to offer a significant discount on RCR shares on a one-for-1.65 basis at $1 each. This represents a ~65% discount on the stock’s last trade price ($2.80).

According to RenewEconomy, Tomlinson has written down $57 million on the $315 million contract values for both the 150MW Daydream and the 50MW Hayman solar farms owned by Edify Energy. They’re both located in North Queensland and both nearing completion.

A statement to shareholders noted that: 

“These project-specific issues required the Company to continuously revise its execution methodologies to mitigate delays, leading to increases in subcontractor costs (both people and plant) and logistics cost overruns.

“As a result of these cost overruns that arose over the life of the Project, RCR has realised cumulative write- downs of $57 million from the tendered margin on the Project.”

Some bad news for solar farms in Australia but we have no doubt that these projects will end up completed and can start making their investments back. We’ll be watching closely how the AEMO’s ongoing changes to legislation affects the many other solar farms currently in various stages of completion/operation. 

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Beryl Solar Farm Sold To New Energy Solar

We’ve written about the Beryl Solar Farm reaching a financial close back in May – now the 87MW (108MW according to the AFR) project has a new owner and is continuing construction. 

Beryl Solar Farm Sold To New Energy Solar

Beryl Solar Farm Sold to New Energy Solar
Beryl Solar Farm Sold to New Energy Solar (source:

According to PV Magazine, the farm has been purchased by New Energy Solar – who also bought the 50MW Manildra Solar Farm for $113m last month. Both farms were previously owned by First Solar and the Beryl farm will be using their 420W large-format Series 6 thin film PV modules. Beryl also comes with a 15 year PPA with Transport for NSW – who will purchase 134,000 MWh from Beryl Solar Farm each year – using the power for the Sydney Metro Northwest railway. This long PPA with a AAA rated customer (i.e. the government) makes the farm a great buy in its current shape.

The EPC project was estimated at $150m according to Reuters, but it’s now estimated at $187m. Downer Utilities started work on the project in May and hope to have it finished in mid 2019. The farm will produce enough energy to power 25,000 households and doesn’t require any water for its electricity generation.

New Energy Solar said the cost of the farm won’t be announced but it was pegged to a target for five-year annual average gross yield of 8.2%, in comparison with yield on its existing portfolio of about 6.8% p.a, so by those metrics it looks like a canny purchase. 

New Energy Solar’s CEO, John Martin, discussed how the extra-long 15 year PPA helped get the sale of this project over the line:

“Beryl, New’s second investment in Australia, will further enhance the scale and contracted cashflows of our Australian portfolio,” said Martin. “Following the Manildra acquisition last month, we are delighted to be consolidating our relationship with First Solar through this second sizeable transaction in the Australian market.”

Martin continued to say that ~69% of the energy provided by the Beryl project will go to Transport for NSW – with the rest slated to package up with a 20MWh battery and sold to a corporate customer as commercial solar

To learn more about the project from the First Solar website please click here

If you’re interested in solar employment and working at the Beryl Solar Farm, please click here to visit the Downer Group’s careers website.

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Beryl Solar Farm reaches financial close.

First Solar have reached a financial close at the 87MW Beryl solar farm in New South Wales. The farm will be one of the world’s first to use First Solar’s Series 6 modules (with 420+ watts per module) and will be constructed by Downer EDI. 

Beryl Solar Farm – Construction and Financial Close

Beryl Solar Farm
Beryl Solar Farm (site:

Beryl is around five km from Gulgong in central west NSW. This is one of NSW’s biggest completed solar farms but there are some upcoming projects which will dwarf it (such as the 200MW Sunraysia solar farm in Balranald or the $380m Gunning Solar Farm – with solar there are always bigger plans in place!).

According to a press release on Reuters, the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract is worth about $150m and construction will commence soon.

TransGrid’s head of business growth Richard Lowe discussed how they will be able to integrate into the project: “The project is located approximately 250 metres south of TransGrid’s Beryl Substation, so we have been able to offer a very competitive and attractive asset connection plan to First Solar,” Lowe said in a statement on the TransGrid website.

“The Beryl Solar Farm will connect directly into TransGrid’s high-voltage electricity transmission network via a 66kV connection to a new bay at Beryl Substation.

“This connection will allow the export of 87 megawatts of power into the National Electricity Market – enough to serve the needs of approximately 25,000 average NSW homes, while the associated carbon emission displacement is equivalent to taking about 45,000 cars off the road.” the statement from TransGrid continued.

TransGrid will oversee the construction and operation of a new substation at the Beryl solar farm so they’re able to then connect that to the existing Beryl substation. This will happen in the second half of the year. 

If you’d like to learn more about the Series 6 module please click here to watch a video on the manufacturing process. 

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