Australian solar panel recycling tech on show in Spain

Australian solar panel recycling tech on show in Spain

Australian researchers are developing solutions to recycle solar panels and recover strategic metals including silver and copper.

In Australia alone, it’s estimated more than 100,000 tonnes of solar panels will enter the waste stream by 2035, along with billions of dollars’ worth of materials that could be recaptured.

RMIT University is leading an international network of researchers working to advance the reuse and recycling of solar panels, which can contain valuable materials like silver, silicon and copper.

Thursday 13 June saw the opening of a work and exhibition space at engineering company EDIPAE’s site in Tomelloso, Spain.

The space is a local hub for researchers and industry to collaborate on how best to recover, use and commercialise valuable materials extracted from recycled solar panels.

news-solar-group-1220px Representatives at the workspace opening.

EDIPAE director Carlos Miralles Sánchez said as the network’s industry partner in Spain, his company was proud to contribute to a circular economy model for solar panels.

“We now have a physical space to work with researchers on a cheaper and easier recycling solution through this Australian technology,” he said.

“We also have a workshop with tools for creating prototypes so ideas can be developed as well as exhibited to the public.”

The facility houses a public exhibition of the different types of modules and the by-products obtained after recycling them.

EDIPAE will also work with local entities to provide employment and education opportunities.

Technological partner the University of Castilla-La Mancha will use the space to deliver training workshops and conduct research through its Renewable Energy Research Institute.

Photo of Ylias Sabri The work and exhibition space at EDIPAE’s site in Tomelloso, Spain.

RMIT’s Dr Ylias Sabri said while solar panels are helping to reduce carbon emissions, the infrastructure to scrap and effectively recycle them once they reach their end of life has been lacking.

“Solar panels have a lifespan of 25 to 30 years and contain valuable metals including silver and copper,” he said.

“But there’s historically been little interest in recovering these strategic metals from discarded panels as it’s difficult and expensive to do, so they end up in landfill.”

It’s hoped technology being developed by Sabri and his team could be part of the solution to improve the economic viability of recycling solar panels.

“RMIT is in a prime position to support this large and growing market and consequent job creation,” Sabri said.

The Integrating End of Life Solar Panel Waste in Circular Economy network is funded by the Australian Government Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (ICIRN000011).

It involves multidisciplinary teams of researchers and industry partners, including New York University, University of Castilla-La Mancha, CSIR-National Physical Laboratory, King's College London, EDIPAE, My Second Life Solar, HP Energy and others.


Story: Aеden Rаtcliffe

Masthead image: Adobe Stock (AI generated)

13 June 2024


13 June 2024


  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Science and technology
  • Research
  • STEM
  • RMIT Europe
  • Engineering
  • Environment

Related News

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.