The potential of second-hand photovoltaics
(sustainabilityenvironment.com) – Used photovoltaic panels can have more than one life. One way is certainly recycling: today the existing technologies allow to recover at least 80% by weight of the module and European standards have set precise objectives in this regard. But there is also another way, much less regulated and more unknown. We talk about the buying and selling of second-hand photovoltaic, currently completely “amateur“, not without risks but at the same time full of possibilities. That’s why COESA, Energy Service Company (ESCO) Turin, intends to remove critical points and obscurity and realize the first European e-commerce of used photovoltaic panels. What is it about a second hand solar marketplace, certified and checked.
Used solar panels, when do they agree?
No need to deny it. The yield of a 30-year solar panel is not the same as a newly bought one. The guaranteed useful life is now around 25 years, calculating negligible power losses over the guaranteed time. After that, it gets complicated. When the original power drops by 20% or more, the system may fail to meet the needs of the owner. But even with 80% of remaining capacity the used photovoltaic can find an application, perhaps in small installations offgrid that do not require the care of the connected systems in the network.
Used photovoltaic panels, off the black market
That the possibility of buying second-hand photovoltaics is not an option so peregrine proves the most hidden part of the market. Today, COESA reveals, there are individuals who resell old photovoltaic panels on online platforms. The biggest problem, in this case, is the lack of the manufacturer’s warranty, both for performance and in case of failures. But you can also go to meet have and own fraud. “In practice, the second-hand market is a black market, characterized by the total lack of protections for those who buy” emphasizes Matteo Stoppa, Chief Innovation Officer COESA. “If we think that after 20/25 years of use a photovoltaic panel retains 80% of its capacity it is easy to understand that we are wasting a colossal amount of clean energy and low cost”.
The first marketplace of used photovoltaic panels
To address the problem, ESCO has created in collaboration with Politecnico di Torino, Unicredit and Fondazione Cottino, the KeepTheSun project. The initiative meets the needs of owners who want to replace their solar modules with new generation models. And on the other it identifies the requests of those who want to create an off-grid system, not connected to the national electricity grid.
The sales process involves the creation of a network of stakeholders on the territory that is responsible for testing and certifying the efficiency of each photovoltaic module used for sale: a guarantee for all actors in the supply chain, and why the portal will not be active before 2024.
“Our project transforms what is currently a waste into a precious resource, with evident effects on the reduction of pollution but also of the contrast to illegal sales” explains Federico Sandrone, CEO and co-founder of COESA. “Recycling photovoltaic panels is expensive and energy-intensive, reusing them instead resets their carbon footprint and can trigger virtuous circuits for our economic system“.