BIPV system using recycled cells

HW#8

Photovoltaic panels contain recyclable materials, but their disassembly and recovery require specialised equipment and skilled workers The project aims to establish a workflow for producing BIPV using recycled solar cells, reducing e-waste and boosting the solar potential of existing buildings.

Target technical data

% of recyclable (or reusable) product

>98%

% of product from recycled sources

>70%

Embodied Energy

368 MJ/m2 (- 72% compared to standard solution)

Embodied Carbon

0.143 tonCO2eq/m2 (-72% compared to standard solution)

State of the art and main challenges

Solar panels typically have a 20-year lifespan. According to recent reports from IEA, BP, and ENI, PV installations have surged in the last three years. Notably, materials reclaimed from retired panels could constitute 6% of solar PV investments by 2040, marking a significant increase from the present.

Innovations and added value

Although most of a typical photovoltaic panel is made of recyclable materials, disassembling them and recovering the glass, silver and silicon is extremely difficult. Highly specialised equipment and workers are needed to separate the aluminium frame and junction box from the panel without shattering it. Specialised furnaces are used to heat panels to recover silicon. In most countries, panels are classified as hazardous materials, which require expensive restrictions on packaging, transport and storage. REN+HOMES combats fa├žade overheating and repurposes cells before end of life. Chosen delamination (mechanical or chemical) is documented for CO2 evaluation. Micro prototyping tools craft new modules for architectural integration. Our approach reuses high-efficiency cells, creating fresh solar panels.