- Western Australia government says it has established a new green energy approvals team
- It will help speed up project approval timeframes by expediting environmental assessments
- The government is also creating a Green Energy Major Projects Group as 1st point of contact for projects and investors through government processes
- Recruitment of panelists, comprising national and international resources, for a Green Energy Expert Panel is nearing completion
- The state has also selected 2 solar panel recycling projects to award AUD 2.4 million, out of AUD 6.5 million to e-waste recycling projects
Expressing its commitment to streamlining approvals for proponents and investors of renewable energy and related industry projects, the State of Western Australia has now established a new green energy approvals team to expedite environmental assessments expecting this to reduce project approval timeframes.
“The Green Energy Approvals Initiative is driving investment in wind and solar power generators, renewable hydrogen industries, lithium mining, critical minerals processing as well as manufacturing green energy products such as batteries, electrolyzers, solar panels and wind turbines,” said the state government.
Currently, it counts more than 40 green energy projects being assessed or regulated by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation with most of these related to renewable hydrogen, followed. By wind energy, lithium mining and critical minerals.
Another 30+ proposals are expected to be referred to the department for assessment over the next 12 months. The new team in place will target a significant number of these projects (see Western Australia’s Gigantic RE Plans For SWIS).
“The whole-of-government Green Energy Approvals Initiative will drive the green industries boom in WA, supporting local jobs and a strong economy into the future,” said Western Australia Premier Roger Cook. “It will draw new investment and improve our renewable energy credentials while ensuring the environment is protected for future generations.”
Additionally, the state government is also creating a Green Energy Major Projects Group under the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation. It will be the 1st point of contact to help steer projects and investors through government processes, it explained.
There is also a Green Energy Expert Panel being created, comprising government and industry stakeholders, to provide information regarding projects to the independent Environmental Protection Authority. Recruitment of suitable panelists from Australia and global markets is nearing completion.
Solar panel recycling efforts awarded
Western Australia has also announced 21 winning projects under the 1st funding round under its Infrastructure Grants Program to support the state’s electrical and electronic waste recycling efforts. The state government aims to ban e-waste disposal to landfills from 2024 onwards that will include solar PV systems in future phases.
Among the winning projects that will share a total of more than AUD 6.5 million, are 2 solar PV recycling facilities that take a total of AUD 2.4 million. Cyber Computer Recycling and Disposal will use the funding to purchase automated solar PV recycling equipment for a comprehensive solar PV recycling facility with capacity to process 22,000 panels/year, up from the current capacity of 2,000 panels/year.
The other winner for solar PV recycling is Scipher Technologies that will purchase and commission an advanced PV panel recycling system providing increased recovery and recycling capacity. It promises to provide 80% material diversion from landfill.
Western Australia is not alone in its pursuit of no e-waste from solar PV. Another Australian State of Queensland is also considering a ban on dumping solar panels in landfills within the next decade and launch a solar panel recycling scheme instead (see Australian State Bats For Solar Panel Recycling Scheme).
Last year in June 2022, New South Wales (NSW) announced AUD 7.4 million to help establish solar module and battery recycling facilities in the state (see Australian Funding Support For Solar Recycling Projects).
Recycling of solar panels is a major point of discussion when it comes to sustainability efforts of the PV industry, which was discussed by various stakeholders at the 1st Virtual Conference on Solar & Sustainability of TaiyangNews in March 2023. Details of the presentations by participants are available here.