Recycling Solar Panels | What to do with old solar panels.

Recycling solar panels is a topic which will be a lot more prevalent as the initial ‘wave’ panels begin to reach their end of life. Let’s take a look at what the plans are for trying to minimise the environmental impact and maximise the value  of a used solar panel.

Recycling Solar Panels | Will there be a waste crisis for old panels?

Australia has one of the highest PV solar uptakes in the world. There are plenty of us who have had solar installed for a long time. So long, in fact, that people are talking about end of life strategies to dispose of/ repurpose solar panels, so that they don’t cause a problem for the environment. 

Total Environment Centre director Jeff Angel has been crusading for the implementation of such strategies for solar panels, calling it a ‘systemic problem’:

“We’ve had a solar panel industry for years which is an important environmental initiative, and it should have been incumbent on government to act in concert with the growth of the industry so we have an environmentally responsible end-of-life strategy,” he said in a quote to the Sydney Morning Herald.

We’ve written previously about solar panel recycling and, although it’s good to see things like the ELSi project in Germany, there’s still a ways to go before we figure out the best way forward to recycle solar waste.

Reclaim PV: Recycling Solar Panels
Reclaim PV: Recycling Solar Panels (source:

According to the director of Reclaim PV (the only dedicated photovoltaic recycler in Australia), Clive Fleming, they company recycles 90 per cent of materials in a panel. The company has been lobbying for state bans on landfill disposal of solar panels. 

Australian Council of Recycling chief executive Peter Schmigel also had a quote in the SMH about how a proper plan for recycling PV cells could have a positive effect on the economy:

“Recovery rates have been out of sight since the beginning of the scheme, nobody has said anything at all about there being an inbuilt recycling cost. It generates jobs, it generates environmental outcomes and yet for some reason we have policymakers who are hesitant about [establishing similar schemes] for solar PVs and batteries,” he said.

We expect over the coming year or two we’ll hear a lot more about this, with Sustainability Victoria working on a ‘national approach to photovoltaic product stewardship’, with their recommendations presented to the environment ministers around the middle of this year. 

Victoria have already announced they’ll ban electronic waste in landfill from July 2019, so it’ll be interesting to see if/how the other states follow suit.

Read More Solar News:

Relectrify: Recycled EV batteries for home storage.

Melbourne-based startup Relectrify has been given $750,000 AUD from the federal government’s Clean Energy Innovation Fund to continue its work in developing a program to recycle electric vehicle batteries for installation as household energy storage. Another great step forward for energy storage technology

Relectrify and EV battery lifespan

Relectrify Powertrak
The Powertrak by Relectrify (source:

Relectrify was founded by Valentin Muenzel and Daniel Crowley in 2015 via the Melbourne Accelerator program at the University of Melbourne. Muenzel and Crowley realised that electric vehicle batteries unable to provide the range or power required for EVs would still be useful in other applications. On average, most batteries at this stage were, while unsuitable for EVs, still retaining up to 80% capacity and still had at least 2,000 full (charge/discharge) cycles remaining. 

They’re also working with partners to create a flagship deep-cycle 12V battery known as the Powertrak, which is a 100Ah capacity upcycled automotive quality lithium phosphate battery with a 3-year warranty – click here to view the website or order a Powertrak. 

“Batteries are becoming a fundamental building block of the new energy industry and seeing significant uptake across households, businesses and the power grid,” Muenzel said to the Herald Sun. “And this is just the beginning. There is an immense need for affordable and capable storage across almost all parts of our lives now and in the future.”

They created technology that allows batteries to be repurposed, so nonfunctional cells (each battery contains hundreds of individual cells) no longer result in the battery being deemed unusable. Rectify’s energy storage repurposing technology is low cost, boosts performance, and increases the longevity of the storage. You can click here to visit their homepage and learn more about the tech and their plans for the future. 

Relectrify and the future

Although the market penetration of electric cars is currently only 0.2%, it’s projected to rise to 25% by 2035. 

The Herald Sun is reporting that industry experts predict the batteries could be capable of storing around 15 gigawatt hours by 2035. This represents enough stored energy to power South Australia’s current summer peak demand for five hours.

Click play on the video below to watch a video about Relectrify and its role in providing a ‘second life’ for electric vehicle batteries!

Read More Solar News: