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Tag Archives: Solar panels

Considerations for the impacts on SMEs as major corporates ‘race to zero’

Numerous corporations have joined the “race to net zero” emissions, announcing targets and policies to reduce their carbon outputs. The impacts these declarations will have on small to medium sized enterprises (SME) within major corporates’ supply chains should be considered.

For example, Unilever is a leader in producing fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and their announced climate policy and targets in their Climate Transition Action Plan. The plan was put to shareholder vote earlier this month with the majority of shareholders voting in support of the climate action strategy. The company’s voluntary targets, signify a movement that responsible businesses cannot and should not wait for regulation. Corporates opting for voluntary annual emission reports and in this case, an advisory shareholder vote, signify an increased level of transparency and accountability between investors, consumers and businesses. 

However, the impacts of these policies on the supply chain and wider network need to be considered.  

>Where does the cost lie? The plan discusses the intent to cost neutrally reduce the emissions from raw material suppliers. The cost of reducing these emissions will be placed onto the suppliers, potentially placing the burden on the supply chains of SME’s to shoulder.
>What support for SMEs will be provided? The introduction of carbon data invoices is an example of an area where smaller companies will need assistance. Although it may sound like a simple tweak to the system, it may be complex to set up and deliver and potentially not cost neutral.
>How will the new supplier reporting frameworks chosen by major multinationals start to shape and influence the uptake of different reporting methodologies? As there are an overwhelming variety of these methodologies in use (TFCD, Science based targets, GRI, CDP, as well as national government systems), there is much debate around how to select one global standard to use. Unilever in this case have chosen Science Based Targets, which may have an influence on the uptake of that particular framework at a global scale. 

Corporates are setting expectations on acceptable reporting methodologies for their suppliers. This has the potential to be a positive environmental step, as data will be influential in setting a global consensus for mass scale climate reporting methods. When large corporations dictate that science based targets are the new reporting frameworks they want from suppliers, it may be hard to envision how this reporting framework won’t become a new norm for SMEs in Australia and elsewhere.

Written by Marita Doak and Donald Fraser

Victorian Government announce state’s climate change strategy

The Victorian Government Climate Change Strategy aims to keep the state on track to meet the emissions target of net zero emissions by 2050. Victoria’s announcement marks all of Australia’s states and territories committing to a net zero target by 2050, despite the absence of the federal government’s embracing a national the goal. The strategy announced interim targets aiming to decrease emissions by 28-33% by 2025 and 45 – 50% by 2030. The objectives at the focus of the strategy include; 

>$100 million package for electric vehicle subsidies, granting $3,000 for all new zero emission vehicles that cost less than $69,000 and a target for 50% of all new vehicle sales to be electric or hydrogen by 2030.
>Public transport – all buses purchased from 2025 onwards are zero emissions.
>Gas substitution roadmap – encouraging users to shift to electricity and other fuels.
>Investing $31 million to support high-energy using businesses to adopt energy solutions to reduce costs and prepare for a low – emissions future.
>$380 million to deliver “Recycling Victoria” – a 10-year plan assisting businesses and households to improve their resource efficiency, recycling and reduce waste. 

The announcement signifies the push from state governments to reach net zero emissions and develop a harmonised approach to electric vehicle standards. 

Agriculture is one of the state’s largest carbon emitters, and an industry that the federal government is debating to exempt from the national  net zero targets. The Victorian strategy includes pledges for the agricultural industry announcing;

>$15.3 million invested in agroforestry, encouraging farmers to plant trees to sequester carbon and realise other on farm benefits such as protecting crops/animals from extreme weather
>Expanding the Agriculture Energy Investment Plan, providing an additional $30 million to support farmers to improve on-farm energy generation and efficiency.

The plan aims to ensure that farmers are well placed to be supported in using information and tools which will help realise emissions reductions opportunities on farms.

MMI open for recycling and clean energy manufacturing grants

Earlier this month, the federal government announced a series of Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) grants for major recycling and clean energy projects. The government is inviting applications under its Recycling and Clean Energy stream, offering grants on average of $4 million, ranging from $1 million to $20 million. The $1.3 billion in funding will assist manufacturers to scale up, commercialise and collaborate.

The MMI grant stream is now open and made up of two separate funding opportunities; 

>Manufacturing translation component: will assist manufacturers in expressing their ideas into commercial outcomes and encourage investment in non R&D innovation.
>Manufacturing integration component: will assist in commercializing innovative concepts, integrating into local and domestic supply chains.

The government has outlined examples of the grants, addressing the funding suitability to include activities which aim to enable greater use of recycled materials across supply chains, and/or that promote increased use of clean energy within their industrial systems.

Applications for these grants close on the 5th of May and businesses must provide co – funding.

NSW Grants for Solar Panel Reuse and Recycling

The NSW Government is investing $10 million to help improve environmental performance by diverting end-of-life solar panel systems from landfill, with the first round of grants now open.

Although current waste volumes are relatively low, this emerging waste stream is expected to rapidly increase over the next decade as installed systems reach their end-of-life. In NSW it is forecast that this waste stream could generate up to 10,000 tonnes per year by 2025 and up to 71,000 tonnes per year by 2035.

EPA Director Circular Economy Kathy Giunta said the investment in recycling through this Circular Solar grants program would help NSW meet its commitment of net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

“While current amounts of waste are low, now is the time to invest in developing systems for collecting and recycling these valuable resources like scarce and rare metals, including lithium batteries.

“We want to recycle and re-use the materials in solar panels and battery systems as NSW transitions towards cleaner energy and this program is an important step in building a productive circular economy in NSW.

“It will see NSW well placed to manage waste solar systems over the coming years and will stimulate much needed job creation in the solar power and recycling sectors,” Kathy Giunta said.

The NSW Government is now inviting Expressions of Interest for grants to run trial projects that increase the collection, reuse and recycling of solar panel and battery storage systems. Applications for projects that trial whole of supply chain approaches to collecting and reusing and/or recycling can be made until 17 September 2020.

$2 million is available in this funding round, with the remaining funding to be made available following evaluation of this EOI process.

Scoping study

As part of the background to establishing the the circular solar trials fund, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment commissioned a scoping study (PDF 3.8MB) to assist in development of the EPA’s end-of-life solar programs. It contains information that may help organisations preparing EOIs, including:

> projected waste generation volumes
> materials that can be recovered from solar panels and batteries
> reuse and recycling technologies
> end-market opportunities

The study was conducted by the UTS Institute of Sustainable Futures and Equilibrium.

Don’t hesitate to contact the Equilibrium team on BH  (03) 9372 5356 if you need support or help in preparing an EOI for the grant program.

Be sure to stay updated on our blog page for future grant opportunities.

For more information visit https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/working-together/grants/infrastructure-fund/circular-solar-trials-expression-of-interest

Stewardship for Solar Panels Moves Forward

Work led by Sustainability Victoria has taken a positive step forward in responsible management for end-of-life solar panels, inverters and batteries.

A new report covering a stewardship options assessment for photovoltaic (PV) systems has recently been released. It discusses many of the key issues as we move towards a decision on how to best manage the collection, reuse and/or recycling of obsolete, redundant and unwanted solar panels and associated equipment, including batteries.

The options assessment was prepared by Equilibrium and Ernst & Young on behalf of the national working group involving all jurisdictions. The report can be  downloaded here.

In summary, the assessment report found that:

> Key stakeholders (including PV manufacturers, importers and industry associations) supported a nationally coordinated approach for managing PV system waste

> Solar panel waste is the fastest growing e-waste stream in Australia, with only limited recycling opportunities, and would benefit the most from a product stewardship approach

> Either a voluntary or co-regulatory approach for solar panels may be feasible and are likely to achieve the environmental, health and safety objectives of the Product Stewardship Act 2011, improve management of solar panels and increase the opportunity to reuse valuable materials

> The recommended next step is to analyse the potential impacts of voluntary and co-regulatory options.

Given the increasing volume of solar panels entering the market, the time is right to develop a clear forward strategy that can ensure responsible management for this problematic waste stream. Not unlike other forms of ewaste in Australia, the need to promptly build capacity and capabilities is a priority issue, as acknowledged by the Product List under the Product Stewardship Act.

More information about the national approach being pursued can be found here:  https://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/About-us/Research/Solar-energy-system-lifecycles

Timeline

The timeline outlined by Sustainability Victoria provides a useful chronology of activity to date, as well as immediate next steps.

> 2014: Victorian Government commits to ban e-waste from landfill

> 2015: Solar panels are identified as the fastest growing e-waste stream without dedicated recycling infrastructure in the Victorian e-waste market flow and processing capacity analysis

> 2016: PV systems are added to the federal government’s Product Stewardship Act 2011 priority product list

> 2016: The Victorian Government receives endorsement through the Meeting of Environment Ministers to form a national working group to work with the PV industry to develop a national management approach for PV systems

> 2017: The national working group completes a national PV systems market flow and processing capacity analysis for PV system equipment, such as inverters and batteries

> 2018: PV systems stewardship options assessment completed by consultants Equilibrium and Ernst & Young on behalf of the national working group

> 2018: Meeting of all state and territory Environment Ministers endorses the national battery stewardship approach to include PV system batteries

> 2019: Recommendation made by the national working group to remove PV inverter equipment and batteries from the national approach to focus solely on PV panels

> Future: National working group to undertake a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) assessing industry-led and co-regulatory options for solar panels, and the flow-on regulatory and economic impacts

> Future: National working group to make recommendations to state, territory and federal governments on a preferred management approach.

The momentum is now building and a decision on the type of stewardship scheme seems likely given the preparatory work, stakeholder engagement and feasibility assessment completed to date.

Whether it is an industry-led program or a co-regulatory scheme, the planning and design process is well underway and bodes well for a national solution that can maximise resource recovery opportunities for this category of ewaste.

More information

Michael Dudley
Strategy Lead – Market Development | Resource Recovery
Sustainability Victoria
michael.dudley@sustainability.vic.gov.au

Nick Harford
Managing Director
Equilibrium
nick@equil.com.au

John Gertsakis
Director, Communications
Equilibrium
john@equil.com.au

Photovoltaic Systems Stewardship Study

Online survey available for interested stakeholders

Sustainability Victoria (SV) is leading a national project to examine photovoltaic systems and assess possible options for stewardship programs to potentially manage the products at end-of-life.

Product stewardship specialist Equilibrium has been appointed by Sustainability Victoria to undertake an analysis and assess potential options for a national product stewardship approach.

Photovoltaic (PV) panels and associated products and equipment have been identified as a rapidly growing e-waste stream in future years.  For this project “PV systems” have been defined to include panels and PV system accessories such as inverter equipment and energy storage systems.

As part of the project, Equilibrium welcomes input and information from manufacturers, installers, project developers, the energy industry, peak bodies and others .

Information and evidence gathered will support the assessment of potential options.

Stakeholder survey available online

Organisations and individuals interested in the project can complete a short online survey here:  http://bit.ly/PVs-survey

The deadline for completing the survey is COB Monday 27th August 2018.

For more information about the project or the survey, contact Damien Wigley at Equilibrium at:  damien@equil.com.au