With the uptake of solar storage, Solar Battery Recycling is becoming an important issue.
The increasing number of solar panel installations in households around Australia is providing a new market opportunity for energy storage. Large batteries or multiple batteries joined together in battery banks can store the energy produced by solar panels. The household can then use that stored energy at a later time, or sell it back to the electrical grid. For homeowners, there are three main benefits of storing energy:
- maximise energy savings (by being able to store the solar energy and thus use it more effectively)
- offset consumer feed-in tariffs (by being able to avoid using the grid at peak times when electricity is more expensive)
- provide continuity of supply (if the site has unreliable grid supply).
The main options currently available for household energy storage are lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries. Other less common options include nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride and flow batteries. The latter may be more costly, but can still offer value, depending on how much energy you want to store and how you want to store it. The best battery storage for a given situation will depend on a number of factors.
With the number of depleted home solar batteries being thrown away tipped to rise over the coming years, looking into solar battery recycling has become a priority for one Australian company with the launch of an easily recyclable power source. Helen Lewis, Australian Battery Recycling Initiative chief executive, said most batteries being sold have a life span of 10 years and is calling for the Government to accelerate negotiations with the industry for a battery recycling scheme.
“We don’t have any regulations that require solar battery recycling at the moment. We’d like to see that come into force sometime over the next few years.” Dr. Lewis warned that it took almost 10 years to install a TV recycling program.
There are several options for you to properly dispose of your used solar batteries. Most local governments have waste management systems where batteries and other obsolete goods can be properly disposed. Contact the waste management office in your city and find out where you can drop off your used solar battery. In addition, some local governments may have collaboration with a waste management company and created a special drop-off location.
About 8,000 tonnes of lithium-ion batteries are thrown away every year and in the next 20 years that is expected to jump to 150,000 tonnes, partly due to a rise in the use of big home solar batteries, according to the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative.
Lead acid batteries must not be placed in home recycling or waste bins. The lead and acid may contaminate other recycled materials and render them un-useable. 98% of a lead acid battery can be reclaimed through recycling. The lead, plastic and acid components are re-processed and manufactured into an array of other products including guide posts, cabling and detergents.
Batteries contain harmful materials such as acid, lithium and heavy metals (e.g. cadmium, cobalt, iron, lead, nickel and zinc). How much of the material can be recycled depends on the type of battery; for example, the materials of a lead-acid battery are generally 98 per cent recyclable. The metals inside batteries can be valuable, and many recyclers will pay for old batteries. When you replace a battery module, dispose of the old batteries at a battery recycling station or
When you replace a battery module, dispose of the old batteries at a battery recycling station or other suitable sites (look for Australian battery recycling initiatives in your local area). Lithium batteries must not be recycled in the same way as lead-acid batteries, because they may cause fire or explosion if they are mistakenly included in the lead-acid battery recycling process. It is possible that one or more cells may fail sooner than the expected life of the system as a whole, and these individual cells will need to be replaced and recycled. The responsible disposal or recycling of one cell is just as important as that of a module of cells or an entire battery bank.
Presently, lead-acid batteries are the only type of battery that can be recycled within Australia. Recycling of lithium batteries is emerging. All other battery types need to be sent offshore for recycling. This situation may change with the increased uptake of battery technologies, technological advances, and new standards and environmental regulations. More information on battery recycling can be found on Australian Battery Recycling Initiative’s (ABRI) website (www.batteryrecycling.org.au).
If you’re not sure if Solar Storage is right for you, contact us today and let one of our Solar Professionals help you decipher between battery technology, your solar requirements and how to reduce your energy bill. Click below now for an obligation free quote.