CIRCUSOL: Solar power business models towards a circular economy in…
Recently our partner Ecopower has supplied a total of 6 used PV panels to IMEC - another partner of the CIRCUSOL consortium - for their work in this project. The panels were operational for over 8 years in a school in the municipality of Sint Laureins in Flanders until last Friday with a performance of 10,5 kWp.
However, over the last 2 years Ecopower noticed that this installation was severely underperforming due to corrosion on about half of the installed PV panels. This defect cannot be repaired because the manufacturer does not exist anymore. They learned that this kind of problem is well known through the buyers of this PVs due to a fault in the manufacturing process. Therefore, the panels that had no visual signs of corrosion were kept aside to be used and replace future defective panel in other installations using the same type of panels.
Ecopower supplied 5 panels from the school to IMEC, with different degrees of corrosion well visible. In addition, they supplied another panel that didn't show any sign of corrosion, to know if it is still performing as it should or if there is a defect that cannot be seen yet. In this way, knowing the value of the PV, it can be reinstalled and reused again in other installations.
At the occasion of delivering the panels, Arvid and Ioannis from IMEC show the people of Ecopower around the building, letting them see the premises. They also had the chance to visit VITO’s lab, our project coordinator. Great collaboration among the CIRCUSOL partners!
This example is key for the CIRCUSOL project: how can the remaining power generation capacity of a used panel be estimated? And how sure can this estimate be or can warranties be given?
Early detection and repair could be crucial to preserve the efficiency of a defective panel. CIRCUSOL could help to offer a real service like this providing circularity (and financial) benefits.