"On a recent visit to the local rubbish tip, Dr Nick Engerer – the founder and
CEO of solar data services company Solcast – was struck by an increasingly
familiar sight: a stack of perfectly functional, discarded solar panels.
Engerer, who lives on a rural property in northern New South Wales, takes a
trailer of his own rubbish to the tip around once a month. On each of the last
three visits, he tells One Step Off The Grid, he has been confronted by a
similar sight. And it’s starting to bother him.
The problem of what to do with solar panels that have come to the end of their
useful lives has been in the spotlight in Australia lately, with the
establishment of the first of the nation’s dedicated PV recycling outfits, and
a less than helpful deadline from the federal environment minister.
But what about those panels with life still left in them?
As Australia enters its second decade of booming residential solar uptake, the
incidence of solar households upgrading to more powerful, less expensive and
more productive systems is on the rise.
In the vast majority of cases, however, the panels they are replacing wind up
at the tip, despite having no actual defects and many good years of solar power
generation left in them.
So why are we throwing them away?"
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics