Solar panel reuse: turning waste into opportunity with The Blue Tribe Company and CSIRO

The Melt assisted CSIRO with industrial design and prototyping of a Photovoltaic (PV) mobile testing device.

The company

The Blue Tribe Company is a sustainability and innovation consulting organisation focused on improving sustainability outcomes.


The Blue Tribe Company envisaged the Second Life Solar project to reuse fully functional solar panels for other uses and circular economy outcomes for commercial customers, with technical support from CSIRO on testing device development.

The challenge

Australia leads the way in rooftop solar installations, but solar panels are emerging as a growing source of waste and many of the solar panels currently being disposed of have many years of service life remaining.


CSIRO set out to develop a device capable of rapid testing of PV panels in the field to quickly determine if a decommissioned panel can be reused.

This formed part of The Blue Tribe Company’s project to establish a new whole-of-supply chain business model and secondary marketplace that will divert serviceable decommissioned solar panels from landfill for other uses.

The solution

Development of a rapid PV testing device that was portable and able to carry out testing efficiently, accurately and with ease – whilst being cheaper, faster and more mobile than existing options.


The Melt’s Industrial Designer, John Klinkenberg worked with CSIRO on the industrial design and prototyping of the second generation of the rapid PV testing device.

The device needed to be built at a substantially lower cost than available devices, capable of testing panels in the required time and being fitted to the back of a flatbed ute.

John embedded himself as a member of CSIRO’s cross-functional team alongside the subject matter experts and engineers to develop, iterate and finalise the second generation prototypes over a 6 month period.

The results

A fit for purpose PV testing device that is:

  • Compact
  • Portable
  • Faster
  • Low cost
  • Efficient
  • Accurate


Not only did the device deliver on the requirements but it was an example of successful partnership underpinned by cross-functional teams, agile ways of working and a clear mission.

Learn more

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