CIRCUSOL Circular business models for the solar power industry

As part of the EU-H2020 CIRCUSOL project, BFH is working with European partners to develop circular business models for the solar industry. The aim is to make the industry more sustainable and competitive through an innovative approach to resources.


  • Lead school School of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Institute Institute for Data Applications and Security IDAS
  • Research unit Institute Innovation & Strategic Entrepreneurship
  • Funding organisation Horizon 2020 – European Union Grant agreement no. 776680
  • Duration (planned) 01.01.2018 - 31.12.2022
  • Project management Prof. Dr. Stefan Grösser
  • Head of project Prof. Dr. Stefan Grösser
  • Project staff Prof. Dr. Maria Franco Mosquera
    Tim Luginbühl
    Patrik Marti
    Adrian Stettler
    Roger Nyffenegger
    Thomas Blaser
    Boukhatmi Ässia
  • Partner Lund University
    Bern University of Applied Sciences
    VITO (Flemish Institute for Technological Research)
    IMEC (Interuniversitair micro-electronica centrum)
    SNAM (Société Nouvelle d'Affinage des Metaux)
    CEA (Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives)
    PV cycle
    BKW AG (Bernische Kraftwerke AG)
    Daidalos Peutz
    ZABALA Innovation Consulting
    Loser Chemie
  • Keywords Solar panels, Circular economy, Horizon 2020

Starting Point

Photovoltaics (PV) – the conversion of sunlight into electricity – is becoming increasingly important and already meets 4% of European power supply demand. Although this type of energy is eco-friendly in and of itself, it does have a problem: more and more end-of-life solar panel components are ending up in the refuse. This creates environmental pollution and represents a waste of resources. Both aspects are increasingly becoming a financial as well as an image problem for the solar industry.


As part of the European Union’s “Horizon 2020” research programme, the CIRCUSOL project is looking at how the solar energy industry can improve its resource efficiency and contribute more to a climate-friendly energy future. The project brings together companies from the energy industry as well as academic centres and universities from Belgium, France, Germany, Lithuania, Spain, Switzerland and Sweden.

CIRCUSOL’s main objective is to create circular business solutions for the solar energy sector. Here, product owners generate revenues through the performance or functionality of the product over its entire lifecycle. They don’t simply manufacture and sell products but manage them as service providers from production through to the recycling stage. This gives them a strong vested interest in extending the product’s lifecycle and making it easier to recycle the raw materials used in it.


To foster sustainable circular business models, the European partners participating in the CIRCUSOL project are focusing on various areas. This includes the development of PV modules that are easier to repair or recycle than those currently available on the market. New energy storage solutions are also being targeted. One example here is improving the technology for repairing defective batteries. The researchers have also identified significant potential for a more efficient use of resources in the used batteries of electric cars.

BFH is involved in various CIRCUSOL sub-projects. It is creating databases, producing ecosystem analyses and participating in pilot tests being conducted by the project partner BKW in the canton of Bern. Students can also benefit from CIRCUSOL through project theses covering sub-aspects.