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Solar panel and battery recycling to get boost from Modern Manufacturing fund

Solar panel and battery recycling to get boost from Modern Manufacturing fund

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The local manufacturer of new clean energy technologies, and an expansion of high-value recycling industries, including the recycling of batteries and solar panels, are set to share in funding support being provided under the federal government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative.

According to a new National Manufacturing Priority roadmap unveiled by the Morrison government this week, the government will offer grant funding to Australian manufacturers looking to undertake local production of clean energy technologies, or wanting to integrate clean energy into their current manufacturing processes.

“Turning our waste into valuable products, and expanding our clean energy options are priorities for the Morrison Government – because it’s good for the environment, it’s good for our economy and it’s good for jobs,” newly appointed minister for industry, science and technology Christian Porter said.

“This funding is targeted at businesses who are manufacturing in these areas and will leverage the billions of dollars in other investments being made across government into recycling and clean energy projects.”

Last year, the Morrison government unveiled a $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy, to build the capacity of Australia’s domestic manufacturing industries. The bulk of this funding will be directed towards a ‘Modern Manufacturing Initiative’ that will target six priority areas, including critical minerals processing, defence and space industries, medical products and food and beverage industries.

Funding is being offered to projects that will help progress two key streams – to commercialise innovations currently undergoing research and development, and to integrate new technologies into existing manufacturing value chains.

Under the ‘recycling and clean energy’ priority, the government has identified the potential for local manufacture of clean energy technologies as key opportunity, including the production of electrolysers for hydrogen production, the production of renewable thermal heat for industrial processes and high voltage transmission infrastructure to facilitate energy exports.

The roadmap identified the opportunity for Australia to position itself as a leading supplier of specialised transmission network infrastructure, including the use of aluminium and copper for undersea cables, particularly if the Mike Cannon-Brookes backed Australia-ASEAN Power Link connection with Singapore goes ahead, as part of an ambitious Sun Cable development in the Northern Territory.

A related priority is the production of scalable and modularised renewable energy technologies, such as the Maverick deployable solar panel system developed by Australian-based company 5B, which has been earmarked for use to deploy up to 10GW of solar panels as part of the Sun Cable project.

Identified opportunities also include the production of enabling technologies, such as electric vehicle infrastructure, microgrid equipment, inverters and the manufacture of next-generation solar panel technologies.

Support will also be directed to potential cross-over industries between the clean energy and recycling sectors, such as solar panel recycling initiatives, and the reuse of materials used in batteries and wind turbines.

“The Government is backing in Australia’s potential to be a low emissions technology leader.  Our support will support the growth of new industries and jobs,” federal energy minister Angus Taylor said.

“We’re a trusted supplier of energy, commodities and manufactured products across the Indo-Pacific. Getting the technologies of the future right will position us to support our customer countries’ efforts to decarbonise while growing their economies.”

The roadmap was developed by an appointed Recycling and Clean Energy Taskforce, which included the CEO of EV charging company Tritium, Jane Hunter, CEO solar thermal technology company Vast Solar, Craig Wood, and CSIRO Energy’s deputy director Dr Dietmar Tourbier.

In an earlier roadmap dedicated to manufacturing for mining and resources sector, the government identified a range of opportunities to value-add Australia’s abundant reserves of materials required for the production of battery and electric vehicle technologies, including lithium, cooper, nickel and green steel.

“Electric vehicles, batteries, and other advanced clean energy technologies require critical minerals and important base metals,” the roadmap says. “Australia supplies many of these raw inputs and already participates in the value chain for these products.”

“Australia has strong prospects to capture more value by moving ‘up’ this value chain—that is, moving beyond resource extraction to more advanced onshore processing.”

According to grant guidelines that have been issued by the government, grant funding of between $1 million and $20 million will be offered to fund the use of new clean energy technologies, covering up to 50 per cent of the total project expenditure.

Applications for funding under the clean energy and recycling stream of the Modern Manufacturing Initiative are currently open until 5 May.

Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network