»Renew« research project: Repairing modules instead of recycling them

With the »Renew« project launched on August 1, the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) and several partners are researching the repair and reuse of solar modules. The aim is to test used modules more effectively and with a higher throughput and to develop new repair options in order to reduce the amount of modules that have to be disposed of. Specifically, a spatially resolved high-voltage insulation test for modules will be developed that can be performed both in in-line test lanes and in the field using a handheld device. The goal is to detect as early as possible if a system has insulation problems and if a repair is possible. Due to the current problems with defective polyamide-based backsheet films (RSF), the focus is on repair solutions for these films.
One project partner that is already performing quality checks on used modules and then reselling them is 2nd Life Solar. According to 2nd Life Solar's experience, about 70 percent of the sorted modules are currently still directly usable.
To optimize testing, the project team is working with Elmed Dr. Ing. Mense GmbH, a company specializing in test equipment for the coating industry. Finally, HaWe Engineering GmbH will apply the project results to various photovoltaic systems in a field study to enable the qualification of used modules on site.
In addition to off-grid systems and balcony power plants, the project team also sees larger ground-mounted systems as an area of application for used modules.
The three-year project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWK) with 1.2 million euros.

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