A solution to Solar Waste in Victoria – $10M Solar Waste Challenge

By: Miles Hingston



Table of Contents

Australia is moving towards solar power as the primary source of renewable energy. Therefore the government has formulated various schemes and policies to promote both small and large-scale solar energy generation.

However, did you ever think about what happens to solar panels at the end of their lifetime? If you haven’t, now is the best time to think about a solution for solar waste.

This article will briefly discuss the $10 million solar waste challenge so that you can get a clear picture of the program.

What is the $10 million solar waste challenge?

The name “$10 million solar waste challenge” can be quite confusing. Therefore in simple terms, it is a program to facilitate new innovators to come up with new solutions to overcome solar waste.

This is a funding program carried out in Victoria to provide financial support of $10 million to new innovators. Therefore this is a kind of competition between the innovators to come up with the most valuable and viable solution, that is why it is called a challenge.

The innovators should develop ideas to recycle and reuse old panels, thereby reducing solar waste.

Why was this challenge introduced?

Australia is on its way to making solar power the most used renewable energy source in the country. With this increasing appetite for solar energy, the government has introduced various schemes and projects to promote solar panels.

As a result, more than three million rooftop solar panels are installed across the country, while there are roughly 600,000 in Victoria. However, everything will come to an end after a certain time.

Therefore the authorities expect that there will be more than 180,000 tons of solar panel waste by 2035. This will be a significant problem for the entire country.

The Energy Minister in Victoria has said that, currently there are limited options to manage and recycle solar waste in Victoria. However, there are opportunities for innovations and ideas to manage solar waste.

For example, the materials from the solar panels can be recovered and used to produce various other products. However, there is no proper technology or a system to extract them well yet.

This challenge will motivate the new innovators to develop ideas to overcome this issue.

Who conducts the $10 million solar waste challenge

The $10 million solar waste challenge is carried out in Victoria. As a result, it is handled by a state-owned company called Breakthrough Victoria.

Breakthrough Victoria manages a 2 billion fund set up by the Victorian Government to facilitate innovation and research. Currently, Breakthrough Victoria is funding new research and innovations to discover new ways to minimize solar waste.

Who can apply for the challenge

Do you have creative ideas to solve the solar waste issue? As you know, it is illegal to dump solar waste into wastelands. Therefore Breakthrough Victoria welcomes all innovators and developers to present their ideas for a feasible solution.

There are no restrictions or enrollment barriers to presenting your ideas. Present your vision and ideas to the company, and they will fund to commercialize the successful projects. This is an immense opportunity for all innovators to get government support to commercialize their ideas.

What sort of solutions does Breakthrough Victoria Seek

There are three main kinds of solutions among many others to manage waste. They are: reduce, reuse and recycle. Accordingly, Breakthrough Victoria seeks new, commercial, and scalable solutions to create valuable products from end-of-life solar panels.

Valuable elements like silicon and silver in solar panels could be retrieved at a high value through separation technologies. However, this commercial technology does not exist yet at a scalable level.

Therefore there is an opportunity for skilled innovators to develop a recycling methodology and extract these highly valuable elements from the solar panels. This will eventually reduce the solar waste ending up in landfills.

In summary, Breakthrough Victoria is mainly seeking recycling technologies to overcome the solar waste issue through the $10 million solar waste challenge.

How can you submit your proposal to the $10 million solar waste challenge

Breakthrough Victoria conducts various challenges and programs. However, when submitting proposals to these programs, there are several common details that you must declare. Some of these key details are:

  • Problem or opportunity emphasized in a problem statement.
  • Your innovative solution and how it will help to overcome the problem.
  • The potential market size for your innovation.
  • How much progress have you made so far?
  • What is your business model and its financial structure?
  • Simple background of your team
solar waste challenge proposal steps

You can easily submit your pitch online to Breakthrough Victoria. Submit your pitch on their website if you think your novel innovation is desirable, feasible, and viable.

Can you still submit a pitch if you are not in Victoria

This is a program carried out solely in the state of Victoria. However, you can still pitch your idea if you plan to expand your business into the state.

The Breakthrough Victoria seeks to create a circular economy within the state by diverting solar waste from landfills, creating more jobs, and improving economic development. Therefore your idea is important to them.

How does Breakthrough Victoria fund the innovations

As said before, the $10 million solar waste challenge is a funding program for innovative solutions. However, Breakthrough Victoria will not provide grants and venture debts to the selected innovators.

Breakthrough Victoria will invest up to $10 million, at all stages of the company’s journey from pre-seed to well beyond. However, it will act as a venture capitalist firm and invest directly in equities. The company will make direct investments or offer convertible notes.

How will you know the outcome of the challenge?

The applications for the $10 million solar waste challenge are open throughout the year. Once Breakthrough Victoria receives your pitch, it will be assessed by their investment team. They will contact you for additional information after an initial assessment to follow through with the investment process.

How can you help out as a consumer?

With Australia’s rising appetite for renewable energy, it is crucial to address the problem of solar waste. While the authorities seek possible solutions, Ballarat Solar Company will do its best to help the cause as a solar retailer and installer.

Likewise, there are certain actions that you could take as a consumer to overcome the solar waste issue. Consider the three golden points of minimizing waste: reduce, recycle and reuse

solar panel status


With the development in technology, there will be upgraded solar panels in the future with fewer materials, but produce more electricity. These panels could be expensive but would help to reduce the use of solar panels while still producing more electricity.


Make sure to dispose of your old panels responsibly. Sell them for scrap, or even better if you could sell them to recycling plants. You can earn a few dollars too.


Convert your old panels into something new. You can upcycle them into something useful like furniture, build fences, build greenhouses, or use them as insulation on eco houses, etc.

Your contribution is crucial to overcome this issue as a nation.

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Miles Hingston

Miles Hingston

Owner of Ballarat Solar Company and MJ Electrician Ballarat

I have been working in the electrical business for over 20 years, and have 5 years of experience in the solar industry. Ballarat born and bred, I am a very active contributor to the community and I’m also a member of Alfredton Rotary club.We look forward to assisting you with all your solar needs. So feel free to give us a call anytime.

Michelle Rigg
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This is the 2nd house I've put solar on. I shopped around enormously and Miles from Ballarat Solar was outstanding. They are a local company, nothing was ever too much trouble and he always answered any questions I had. Josh and the crew he has working for him are very professional, knowledgeable and helpful too, especially with the app. At the time of installation I couldn't feed back in to the grid but the moment he heard that I might be able to, he offered the assistance I needed to enable this to occur, and it was done in a very timely manner. I highly recommend Miles, Josh and the team at Ballarat Solar Company and will be referring them to my family and friends for any future solar needs. :)
Tony Cawood
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The Bacchus Marsh Lions Club chose Ballarat Solar Company to install a Solar System comprising of a 15kW Inverter and 57 Solar Panels on the local Scout & Guide Hall. The company was very professional to deal with. From quote to installation was carried out on time and the workmanship was first class. The certificate of Safety was issued without a problem. I would not hesitate in recommending this company for future installations.
Rob McDougall
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Ballarat Solar Company were great to deal with, attentive to our requirements and recommended a great system that suited our needs. Nothing was too much trouble, their workers were very polite, worked hard and even cleaned up after themselves.
Robert Floky
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My dealings with the Ballarat Solar Company was an excellent experience with from start to finish. The service was professionally provided and completed with a quick and smooth turn around and no issues. I would not hesitate to recommend them to all.
Dale Whytcross
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Ballarat Solar Company are a very professional company, they came as promised, the workmanship was first class and quote was very competitive. I would recommend Ballarat Solar Company.

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