AGL partners with Elecsome on solar panel recycling plan

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AGL Energy has signed a memorandum of understanding with Elecsome to develop a feasibility study into the establishment of a solar panel recycling plant and solar cable manufacturing facility in the New South Wales (NSW) Hunter Valley as part of the company’s commitment to repurpose the Bayswater site as a renewable energy hub.

If the feasibility study is successful, the recycling plant is expected to upcycle up to 500,000 solar panels per year.

A second stage would then focus on the extraction of high value materials, including silicon wafer for re-use in PV and battery grade silicon, electric conductors for re-use in electrical appliances, and the extraction and re-use of silver, copper and aluminium.

The solar cable manufacturing plant is expected to produce up to 20,000 kilometres of solar cable per annum that would be used in residential and commercial solar installations, as well as on utility scale projects.

For AGL, the deal with Elecsome builds on a strategy to transform the sites of its Bayswater Power Station and the nearby shuttered Liddell coal power station into a low-carbon integrated energy hub that brings together renewable energy industries including generation, grid-scale batteries, green advanced manufacturing, and associated industries.

The company has already inked a deal with Australian solar cell technology innovator SunDrive Solar to explore the development, construction, and operation of a commercial-scale solar cell manufacturing facility as part of the hub and has approvals in place to build a 500 MW / 1,000 MWh battery at the Liddell site. It has also signed an agreement with Renewable Metals to investigate the viability of building a lithium battery recycling facility as part of the hub.

Travis Hughes, general manager of AGL’s energy hubs, said the company’s vision for the Hunter Energy Hub is starting to take shape.

“Since the closure of Liddell Power Station one year ago, we have signed MOUs that could bring battery recycling with Renewable Metals and solar panel manufacturing with SunDrive to the Hunter Energy Hub,” he said.

“Today we add solar panel recycling and solar cable manufacturing to that list of partners.”

“If successful, the establishment of a solar panel recycling plant and solar cable manufacturing plant with Elecsome will mean we are hosting several parts of the solar energy value chain with both manufacturing and recycling of grid-scale and residential solar panels at the Hunter Energy Hub.”

The feasibility study with Elecsome will determine key infrastructure and engineering requirements and identify the regulatory approvals and licences necessary for the development, construction, and operation of both the solar panel recycling plant and the solar cable manufacturing facility.

If developed, the recycling plant would be Elecsome’s first commercial-scale solar facility in NSW and follows the successful commissioning of its first solar upcycling facility in Victoria where it transforms solar panels into new products used in the construction and manufacturing industries.

The company has developed a patented technology to use glass fines sourced from solar panels to replace natural sand to create SolarCrete, a pre-mixed concrete. This product will form part of the feasibility study at the Hunter site.

The Bayswater plant is scheduled for closure between 2030 and 2033. The Liddell power station was shut down in April 2023.

AGL is planning to close its coal-fired Loy Yang A power station in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley in 2035 and is also considering establishing a solar panel recycling plant at that site.

AGL late last year signed a MOU with Solar Recovery Corporation (SRC) for a feasibility study into establishing a PV recycling facility at the site when the station shuts down.

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