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TRANSITIONING SOLAR ENERGY TO A CIRCULAR ECONOMY

Image by Angie Warren

The Circular PV Alliance’s mission is to realise the full environmental, economic and social benefits of solar energy by supporting the Australian solar energy sector transition into a circular economy.

CPVA is is a grass-roots organisation, founded by the solar energy industry, for the solar energy industry. CPVA provides a support network and central point of engagement with industry stakeholders, policy-makers, other industries and government for matters relating to the solar energy circular economy.

WHY CPVA? WHY NOW?

If not us, then who?  If not now, then when?

 

CPVA formed to provide a coordinated and focused effort to prevent the needless disposal of used solar panels into landfill that is becoming more and more common at waste management sites in Australia and the world.

We are motivated by the basic premise that "surely we can do better than that?"

A more responsible approach to the management of used solar panels

provides many opportunities.

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OUR PRECIOUS NATURAL

RESOURCES & MATERIALS ARE GOING TO WASTE

Solar panels contain many valuable materials such as silver, silicon, aluminium, copper and glass. These materials are derived from natural resources and are being thrown into landfill. We believe this is simply not good enough and want to do better.

Image by Felix Schmidt

WE CAN DO SOMETHING TO ALLEVIATE ENERGY POVERTY

DID YOU KNOW approximately 800 million people worldwide do not have access to electricity? And nearly a THIRD of the world's population do not have access to a reliable energy source? Reused solar panels have an important role to play in lifting communities out of energy poverty.

SDG7: Data and Projections – Analysis - IEA

Exploring Solar Panels

THERE IS A NEED FOR INDUSTRY LEADERSHIP TO ENABLE A CIRCULAR ECONOMY

There is AMAZING work being done largely in isolation to drive more sustainable outcomes for solar energy. This important work will benefit from a central, coordinated platform to bring together all the pieces of the puzzle required to establish a thriving solar energy circular economy.

Holding Plant

WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO FUTURE GENERATIONS TO  ACT SUSTAINABLY AND ETHICALLY

Mass legacy waste issues and depleted natural resources is not what we aspire to leave our descendants. We are obligated and motivated to create better ways of managing the by-products of our human endeavours.

Solar Power Station

A SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FUTURE NEEDS A RESPONSIBLE SOLAR ENERGY INDUSTRY

Advances in solar panel technology means that growing numbers of solar panels are being replaced (and subsequently discarded) very early into their lifespan, on average at the 8 - 10 year mark.  This means the full environmental benefit of these panels is not being realised.

 

We want to know - is the impact of manufacturing solar panels offset by the clean energy they generate when they are only installed for 1/3 of their intended lifespan?

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CPVA IS INDUSTRY-LED

Our primary focus is to create a circular economy for solar energy.

 

CPVA provides a support network and central point of engagement between stakeholders, policy-makers, other industries and government. This approach reflects the recommendations of industry reports from around the world that highlight the need for stakeholders to work together to support the emergence of a circular economy.

Circular business models for Australia solar photovoltaics - Arup

 

A united industry-led approach will identify the necessary tools and strategies required to enable a solar energy circular economy. This will also enable the self-determination of various stakeholders in how they wish to participate in this new market paradigm and develop new commercial models.

WHAT IS CPVA DOING?

WHAT IS CPVA DOING?

The following Priority Actions are our initial focus to achieve immediate impact.

2. ESTABLISH STRONG ORGANISATIONAL LEADERSHIP

The industry holds all the keys to driving the circular economy and it is important that CPVA’s leadership reflects the various needs and interests of industry stakeholders.


CPVA’s founding directors will open 6 board positions at our upcoming board meeting to attract motivated and credentialed participants to join and drive CPVA’s exciting transformation agenda.

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3. DEVELOP AN INDUSTRY-LED CIRCULAR ECONOMY ROADMAP

There is growing consumer expectation and government policy emerging (or already in place) that is steering the market towards a circular economy. It is now up to the industry to decide how it would like to participate in this new market paradigm.  Engaging with industry stakeholders to develop a Roadmap is an important step to assist the transition.


CPVA will engage with industry stakeholders to identify the opportunities, challenges and roles involved with the transition to a circular economy and set out a strategy to respond effectively. We will develop and test ideas through market-sounding, identify and lend support to relevant projects and collaborate to prepare policy.


Through expanding our membership base and establishing partnerships CPVA will represent our industry's interests and support new sustainable commercial opportunities in the circular economy.

Image by Joshua Sortino

5. DEVELOP TRACING TECH AND ‘STAMP’ TO ASSURE REUSED PANELS

In conjunction with the certification standard a tracing application and ‘stamp’ will provide the requisite rigour and certainty to guarantee product and data credibility.


Stamped onto the back of each panel will be a ‘fingerprint’. Scanning the fingerprint will provide access to the panel’s information which is stored in a panel profile database (see next action).


The tracing app will also follow panels that are sent for recycling to classify offtake materials after recycling processes.

6. ESTABLISH A PANEL PROFILE DATABASE

The database will hold all the information associated with a panel that is certified for reuse, including test results (such as wattage output), any refurbishment works undertaken, dates/times of testing/refurbishment works, classification etc.


We will also explore the possibility to interface this database with the Clean Energy Regulator’s panel/STC records, to create individual panel profiles for panels previously installed in Australia.


Ultimately, the lifecycle of a solar panel will be mapped and long-term panel longevity and performance will be catalogued. When a panel is processed through a panel testing facility, it's information will be added to the database.


This data will form part of an annual Solar Panel Performance Insight report prepared and issued by CPVA.

Image by Zbynek Burival

GET INVOLVED

Real action, meaningful insights, tangible results.

CPVA is building a national and international network of leaders, service providers, 'thinkers & do-ers' and movers & shakers in the solar energy circular economy. If you would like to collaborate, please Contact CPVA.


A range of membership options offering a variety of benefits to the CPVA community will soon be available. Subscribe below to keep up to date with this exciting opportunity.

If you would like to have an immediate impact, consider making a donation towards the Micro-Pilot Project.

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