It’s 2030, imagine if…

As demand for rooftop solar and independent energy surged in the 2020s, so did a need for a circular approach to producing solar panels and turning PV waste into a resource. Eurobodalla Shire's pioneering Repurposing for Resilience project provided a solution. Their innovative model not only extended the life of panels in their community but also trained residents in ‘energy future skills’ (such as electrical trade training), resulting in a resilient, decentralised energy community. No one was left out: small off grid systems coupled together from used solar panels ensured access to low-or-no-cost energy. In 2025, their success played a role in the amended federal solar rebate rules, opening up incentives for used PV panels, and the adoption of a PV Product Stewardship Act.

Summary of solution

The waste from the growing solar industry will have a significant impact for landfills and it is costly to recycle solar components before their true end of life. The Repurposing for Resilience (RfR) initiative is part of grassroots social change seeking to eliminate the amount of solar equipment going to landfill and emphasise the efficient use of manufactured goods. The project works by responsibly segregating reclaimed solar equipment through a robust testing regime, sorting panels and components so they can either be reused, repurposed or recycled. Through direct community engagement programs, RfR will offer opportunity, materials, and financial incentive for the creative use of repurposed solar equipment.

The project provides direct access to affordable solar systems for not-for-profit community groups and local families, and creates new employment and training opportunities to encourage the creation of a second hand solar panel industry.  A successful RfR outcome would include influence on future policy regarding the reuse of panels and assistance of State and Federal governance and oversite bodies.

Why is this solution innovative

This solution effectively intercepts solar components before they reach landfill and encourages the reuse and repurposing of this discarded waste prior to heavy Industrial Materials Recycling. This results in direct cost savings to both the community and the environment by negating the need for expensive out of area recycling. The RfR provides a working model which will develop industry and consumer confidence in a second-hand market for solar components via a re-testing, recertification, and warranty regime. It also provides opportunity for low-income households to access affordable solar and provides an ideal platform for local artisans to sell their wares utilising the recycled equipment. This project provides a plethora of training, experience and employment opportunities for their small region in the vocations of electrical, renewables, basic construction, marketing and retail.

This project is clearly already working well and will continue to grow given the funding. It is also replicable - so the concept and testing can be carried out throughout Australia.