Q&A: SOLSTRØM FURNITURE – TACKLING SOLAR PV WASTE

We chat to Markus Teufel CEO of Solstrøm Furniture – an innovative design company tackling the issue of PV panels at their end of life. With solar PV installations on the increase, there will come a time, not too far away, when many of these panels reach their end of life. What do we do with them? Solstrøm Furniture, finalists in the Green Alley Awards 2015, has a plan:

 

P-author-Solstrom Furniture (2)What inspired you to create Solstrom Furniture?

 My co-founders Markus and Raphael were running their own PV plant. A year ago we went to that plant in the South of Germany to change an inefficient module. It had only 80% of the expected 100%. But nevertheless the whole string with 23 modules was affected. Holding that panel in our hands we asked ourselves how we could recycle it? There was not a way – it had to go in the dustbin. We realized very quickly that the recycling question will overrun us in a couple of years as PV panels start to need to be replaced.

 

P-author-Solstrom Furniture (3)What are the issues that your furniture is helping to address?

Our SolarDesk is a little contribution to reduce the amount of waste we all create. Already today approximatel 150GW of PV power is installed worldwide. This is equivalent to 600 million single PV modules. What will happen to them one day? I personally believe that sustainability – especially in the green energy field – is essential.

 

P-author-Solstrom Furniture (5)How are you tackling this challenge?

We invented a desk which is made of recycled PV modules in order to give them a second life. The desk will be equipped with an electronic connection in order to charge mobile devices over a USB port. Each desk gets a certificate to prove its origin as well as the amount of CO2 it saved in its first life. Thanks to cooperation with our supplier Sunovis we get reliable data right from their plant monitoring.

 

P-author-Solstrom Furniture (4)

 

Where do you source your PV panels from, solar is still such a new technology, surely there isn’t that much waste yet?

 We source our panels from “Sunovis” which is one of the largest companies in Germany for constructing and running PV plants. It’s true that the amount of PV waste is still moderate, but it is sufficient for our current demand. Due to the fact, that in a small country like Germany, 40GW of PV power is already installed we can see that a huge recycling question will overrun us in the near future.

 

What next for Solstrom?

 We are currently preparing a crowdfunding campaign to raise money. With that money we plan to market our current desk, develop further products and start regular production.

 

Where can we buy/find out more in UK?

We will launch our website including a webshop shortly and we´ll deliver the Solstrøm desk all over Europe. Further we plan to have furniture retailers all over UK in the near future.

 

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