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Towards a circular photovoltaic economy: the role of service‐based business models

Strupeit, Lars; Bocken, Nancy

Solar photovoltaics (PV) has experienced tremendous market growth and has large potential in the urgently needed transition towards a low-carbon energy system. The continued growth of the sector will, however, evoke new sustainability challenges with regard to efficient material use as well as end-of life management of PV products. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of potential Circular Economy actions in the PV sector, and explore the present and potential future role of servicebased business models in operationalizing these actions. Based on a review of academic and industry literature, the paper structures the circularity actions according to the ReSOLVE framework. The analysis also distinguishes between the role of product-oriented, use-oriented and result-oriented product-service systems (PSS). Results show that to result-oriented business models have primarily been implemented in order to facilitate the adoption of PV deployment. Product-oriented PSS are widespread with the service component involving maintenance, repair, insurance and warranties. The paper further explores opportunities of service-based business models to enhance additional circularity actions such as a sharing, optimisation and looping, which so far are mostly in a conceptual or pilot stage only. Expanding beyond current practices, the paper explores future pathways of service-based business models to catalyse a range of additional circular economy actions in the PV sector, and discusses some of the associated key challenges and gaps in knowledge.
Published in: PLATE – Product lifetimes and the environment : 3rd PLATE Conference, September 18–20, 2019 Berlin, Germany, Universitätsverlag der TU Berlin
Published by ISBN 978-3-7983-3125-9