What is the Circular Solar Trials Grants?

The Circular Solar Trials Grants is a program, established by EPA,  to address this emerging waste stream.

It is forecast that NSW will generate 3,000 – 10,000 tonnes per year of waste solar PV panels and battery storage systems by 2025, rising to 40,000 – 71,000 tonnes per year by 2035. To prepare for this emerging waste stream, the EPA seeks expressions of interest (EOIs) to establish collaborative ‘whole-of-supply chain’ projects that trial managing end-of-life solar panels and/or battery systems within a circular economy framework.

 

Objectives

The priorities of the Circular Solar Trials Grants program are to:

  • apply circular economy approaches to develop end-to-end solutions for solar panel and battery systems at end-of-life
  • stimulate immediate and ongoing job creation and economic activity in response to COVID 19
  • stimulate increased collection activities across supply chains through the trial of recovery logistics models
  • reduce the generation of unnecessary solar panel and battery waste to landfill in NSW by drawing on collaboration across the supply chain
  • show safe storage of collected solar panel and battery systems
  • show high-value processing and material recovery and energy efficiency
  • identify barriers, enablers and friction points to the starting of an end-of-life solar panel market in NSW
  • test new models for a secondary marketplace for obsolete solar panels, including showing viable reuse of panels that still function efficiently
  • improve understanding of NSW market readiness for panel and battery recovery
  • model job creation and economic value, so that successful projects may be scaled up and/or implemented across other regions.

 

Funding

The NSW Government has created a $10 million fund to reduce landfilling of solar panels and battery systems. This investment is intended to future-proof the management of this growing waste stream and help NSW transition to renewable energy sources within a circular economy.

The Circular Solar trials grants program is the first phase of this recycling fund. A total of $2 million is available under the Circular solar trials grant program for eligible projects. Funding will be administered by the EPA and successful projects will be determined using a staged approach outlined in the EOI funding and eligibility section.

Typically, the EPA expects that funding requests will not exceed $1 million per proposed project. However, the TRC may, at its discretion, recommend a proposed project seeking up to $2 million of funding if the EOI response is shortlisted to participate in Stage 2. The TRC may consider exercising this discretion where a proposed project represents a highly compelling and robust end-to-end project that addresses all aspects of the solar panel and/or battery reuse and recovery supply chain. Applicants must provide clear justification for any funds being sought in excess of $1 million in the EOI form.

Applicants must indicate in the Stage 1 EOI form if they seek to apply for Stage 2 project development support funding, should they be shortlisted to participate in Stage 2. Applicants can only utilise this funding to prepare the following Stage 2 documentation: detailed project plans, detailed budgets and negotiating partnerships with other entities in the supply chain (to be evidenced with supporting MOUs/letters of support in Stage 2 submission). Stage 2 project development support funding is capped at $20,000.

 

Eligible Projects

Examples of items eligible for funding include, but are not limited to, the list shown below. If the item is not included on the list below, please contact the EPA to confirm if the item is eligible for funding before including it in your EOI Stage application.

  • Reasonable funding for project manager to facilitate relationships across the supply chain (facilitation costs).
  • Reasonable costs of transportation of materials (e.g. collection of panels/batteries and delivery to site for processing).
  • Cost of buying or hiring plant or equipment (e.g. feasible processing technologies showing high-value processing and material recovery for recycling and/or reuse, including equipment upgrades at an existing facility to trial recycling/reuse of panels or batteries).
  • Modifications to existing processing and/or storage facilities (e.g. modifications for temporary storage areas to store materials/panels waiting to be processed, or processed materials/panels ready for sale to end markets).
  • Activities to increase end markets for recovered or repurposed solar panels/batteries or their components.
  • Activities that will lead or contribute to sustained change in skills and behaviour, such as staff training or promotion to facilitate sourcing of end-of-life solar PV and battery systems monitoring and evaluation of the project to inform future scaling-up of projects.
  • Research and development activities directly connected with practical on-the-ground trials of end-toend supply chains, characterised by their originality, the outcomes of which will be new knowledge and may lead to practical applications, new improved materials, products, processes or services.
  • Sampling, testing of materials and products to confirm suitability.
  • Staff time, up to 50% of salaries (the applicant must provide the remaining 50% of salaries as an inkind contribution).
  • Consultant time can be fully funded (subject to restrictions in ‘Items and projects that will not be funded).

 

Eligible Applicants

In responding to this EOI, the applicant (lead organisation) must hold an Australian Business Number (ABN) and be either:

  • an Australian entity or partnership incorporated under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth);
  • a council (as defined in the NSW Local Government Act 1993), regional organisation of councils or another local government-controlled organisation;
  • a state government entity;
  • an Australian research institution, which can be a tertiary education institution, a government agency established for the purpose of research, a cooperative research centre, an institute or centre of research or a privately-owned and accredited research facility. Any privately-owned research facilities must provide evidence of accreditation (eg. National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia, or similar);
  • a non-government/not-for-profit organisation (must comply with the ATO’s definition) with an established legal status, or those without a legal status that are able to have grant funds administered by another organisation with legal status.

The EPA expects successful Circular solar trials projects to involve strong and collaborative partnerships.

Partnership projects can improve the implementation and reach of projects. EOI responses will be expected to show enduring partnerships across the supply chain between business (such as manufacturers of batteries/panels, installers, recyclers/reuse facilities and end users), investors, industry, local government and potentially tertiary/research organisations working to achieve commercially viable outcomes.

Applicants are encouraged to develop partnership projects with an emphasis on end-to-end supply chain collaboration. For example, entities currently generating solar panel and/or battery system waste may partner with those that collect, reprocess and/or reuse the material.

 

Timing

Applications close 17 September 2020.

 

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