The New South Wales government is looking to give out up to $10m in grants aimed at recycling end-of-life solar panels and battery systems.

This comes as Lithium Australia (ASX:LIT) successfully converted mine waste and spent lithium-ion batteries into high-performance lithium-ion battery cathodes and EcoGraf (ASX:EGR) recovered graphite from a range of ‘black mass’ material from recycled batteries.

Black mass is the residual graphite material remaining after hydrometallurgical processes have recovered the high-value cathode metals from end-of-life lithium-ion batteries and is typically relegated to landfill.

With NSW residents and businesses turning to solar power systems to reduce energy costs and reduce their environmental footprint, the waste stream from this sector is expected to increase over the next decade as installed systems reach their end-of-life.

This is expected to generate 10,000 tonnes of waste per annum by 2025 and up to 71,000 tonnes per annum by 2035.


Retrieving valuable resources

“While current amounts of waste are low, now is the time to invest in developing systems for collecting and recycling these valuable resources, like scarce and rare metals, including lithium batteries,” Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) director circular economy Kathy Giunta said.

“We want to recycle and re-use the materials in solar panels and battery systems as NSW transitions towards cleaner energy and this program is an important step in building a productive circular economy in NSW.

“It will see NSW well placed to manage waste solar systems over the coming years and will stimulate much needed job creation in the solar power and recycling sectors.”

The NSW government is offering an initial $2m worth of grants under the new Circular Solar grants program.

Expressions of interest have been invited for trial projects that increase the collection, reuse and recycling of solar panel and battery storage systems.

Applications for projects that trial whole of supply chain approaches to collecting and reusing and/or recycling can be made until September 17 2020.

The remaining funding will be made available following evaluation of this expression of interest process.