Sustainability

Australia tops up solar funding to Tonga

An additional $2.9 million from the Australian Government’s Outer Islands Renewable Energy Project (OIREP) is making its way across the sea to the kingdom of Tonga in the form of solar power plants and energy storage. The project is helping Tonga to achieve its target of generating 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and 70% by 2030. 

Renewable energy in the US surpassed coal for first time in more than a century

The coal era is officially over in the United States. Not since 1885, when coal replaced wood, have renewables taken the lead.

It may be safe to put PV panels in landfills, but that doesn’t mean we should

According to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), health risks from lead in crystalline silicon PV panels are one order of magnitude — or about one-tenth — below the risk levels set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Perth-based Talga strikes deal with European lithium-ion battery giant

Perth-based graphite anode producer Talga has allied itself with European lithium-ion battery giant Farasis Energy Group as the market in Europe for sustainably sourced electric vehicles continues its rapid rise.

Solar parks may have better biodiversity impact than intensive monoculture farming

A research project in the Netherlands is seeking to assess the impact of large scale PV projects on soil quality and biodiversity. Principal scientist Wim Sinke, of Dutch research center TNO, says well-designed and operated and maintained solar parks could prove to have better outcomes than monoculture farming.

Cultana Solar Farm ramps up for construction start

Work on the long-awaited 280-megawatt Cultana Solar Farm in South Australia could begin as early as July.

Solar panel recycling: Turning ticking time bombs into opportunities

Australia has certainly demonstrated its appetite for solar power. Now, with the average lifespan of a solar panel being approximately 20 years, many installations from the early 2000’s are set to reach end-of-life. Will they end up in landfill or be recycled? The cost of recycling is higher than landfill, and the value of recovered materials is smaller than the original, so there’s limited interest in recycling. But given the presence of heavy metals, such as lead and tin, if waste is managed poorly, we’re on track for another recycling crisis. A potential time bomb could present itself as an opportunity, however, if the global EV industry showed an interest in the recovered solar products.

No time to waste, WA lends support to waste-to-hydrogen project

Western Australia’s Renewable Hydrogen Strategy is beginning to make moves with the backing of Hazer Group and the Water Corporation to produce hydrogen from biogas, an Australian-first with a technology developed in Australia.

ACT fast-tracks solar upgrades for public housing, batteries for schools

The ACT Government has allocated funding to undertake solar and sustainability upgrades on public and community housing and install solar batteries for two public schools as part of its fast-tracked infrastructure projects to support the local economy.

Used EV batteries for large scale solar energy storage

MIT scientists have suggested used electric vehicle batteries could offer a more viable business case than purpose-built systems for the storage of grid scale solar power in California. Such ‘second life’ EV batteries, may cost only 60% of their original purchase price to deploy and can be effectively aggregated for industrial scale storage even if they have declined to 80% of their original capacity.

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