Solarcycle, a solar recycling company, announced the opening of its new headquarters in Mesa, Arizona. In addition to office space and a recycling facility, the headquarters is also equipped with a research lab that will employ scientists and engineers to work on the advancing the material refinement process to reach zero-waste and obtain the most value out of decommissioned panels.
The Mesa facility will initially recycle 250,000 solar panels each year, and ramp to one million panels per year to keep pace with growing market demand in the solar industry for its recycling and circular supply chain services.
With the rapid growth in solar energy in the U.S., there is also growing concern about what will happen to solar panels at the end of their useful life. Without an increase in solar recycling, the U.S. will contribute 10 million metric tons of trash in landfills and other waste facilities by 2050, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). To put into context, the U.S. dumps almost 140 million tons of waste each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Solarcycle reports that its proprietary technology enables the extraction of 95% of the value from recycled panels, including silver, silicon, copper, aluminum and glass. The company sells these higher-purity materials back to the domestic supply chain.
The company says it will create more than 100 local jobs and is hiring for positions in production, engineering, operations, IT, finance, sales and marketing, and management.
Solarcycle, now in its second year of operation, was founded by industry experts from leading corporations and institutions including Solaria, Nextracker, Sierra Club, and the University of New South Wales. The company raised an initial $6.6M seed round in May 2022 from leading renewable energy and circular economy investors including SolarCity founders Peter and Lyndon Rive, former CEO/CTO of Sunpower Corporation Systems Tom Dinwoodie, Urban Innovation Fund and Closed Loop Partners.
Also in its inaugural year, the company opened a facility in Odessa, Texas. To fund that facility the company raised $30 million in Series A funding in 2023, bringing its total funding to $37 million. The infrastructure financing was led by Fifth Wall and HG Ventures. The round also included participation from special situations partner Alok Sindher, Prologis Ventures, as well as existing investors Urban Innovation Fund and Closed Loop Partners.
In April 2023 the U.S. Department of Energy awarded the company a $1.5 million research grant to study the process for recovering higher-quality metals and materials extracted from retired solar panels.
The solar recycler has grown its infrastructure footprint nationally through high-volume contracts with industry leaders including AES, EDF Renewables North America, EDP Renewables North America, Greenbacker, Ørsted, Silicon Ranch, and Sunrun.
Solarcycle reports that it follows stringent set of systems developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and is actively certified under ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and ISO 45001 to recycle and process materials and minerals from solar panels.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory projects that by 2040, recycled panels and materials could help meet 25% to 30% of U.S. domestic solar manufacturing needs.
Solarcycle plans to announce additional facilities across the United States in 2024, with the intention of having a recycling center within 500 miles of 80% of the installed solar in the U.S., Jesse Simons, co-founder and CCO told pv magazine USA. He said the company relies on its logistics professionals to optimize the number of panels on a truck to make the fewest number of trips to bring panels to its sites.
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