Green Drinks Discusses Recycling Solar

Green Drinks Discusses Recycling Solar

“It’s more of a problem than we thought it would be, now we have to work to fix the messes that we have made over the past 40 years.” Sam Vanderhoof, CEO

This month GreenDrinks chose to focus on how you can make an impact by recycling your clean technology. More specifically, solar panels. We spoke with Sam Vanderhoof, CEO of Recycle PV Solar, to learn more. 

Recycle PV Solar is a relatively new company, with their first plant opening only two years ago and their other two plants following not too much later after that. CEO, Sam Vanderhoof, has been in the photovoltaic industry for a while. Vanderhoof experience building companies and installing solar panels, running a company that installed over 9,000 rooftop solar panels in Sacramento. 

Recycle PV Solar had partnered with European based recycling business, PV Cycle, the largest PV recycling company, to bring technology to the US. Recycle PV Solar’s mission is to keep solar panels out of landfills and educate the public on how to recycle their PV solar once it reaches the end of its life.

It was originally thought that solar panels could provide around 30 to 50 years of services, but they typically last 12.5 years. Vanderhoof says that “while they could last a long time, we are seeing a lot of early life failure,” from environmental damage and questionable manufacturing.

PV panels are retiring quickly; it is projected by 2030, the decommissioning of solar panels will be higher than the installation of them. It is time to address what we will do at the end of life for solar panels.

In Europe, 95% of their PV Solar is being recycled, compared to the United States, where only about 10% of it is recycled, leaving the rest to end up in landfills. What are we doing wrong? One thing is that Europe has a mandatory recycling program for everyone. It cost European Recyclers about $0.70 to recycle each panel. In the U.S. it is an average of $18.00 per panel; this is because most of the recycling here is volunteer-based and hasn’t reached economies of scale to reduce cost.

Recycle PV Solar is looking to prevent solar panel waste from being an environmental disaster, keeping the Green Economy Green.  Vanderhoof closes by saying that “Everything we need to make this happen exists today; it is time to fix the messes we have made over the past 40 years.”

Thomas Hall


Saraia Jackson is a second-year computer science major at CSU Sacramento. Her long-term goal is to become a cybersecurity analyst. She wants to show young African American women that they can do whatever they put their minds to no matter where they come from. She also really wants to devote her life to helping children and making a difference. 

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College of Engineering & Computer Science at Sacramento State

Another Path to Decarbonization

Another Path to Decarbonization

While broad electrification of the economy has emerged as a primary strategy for reducing CO2 emissions, there is another path that achieves the same result and it may be quicker to implement and less expensive.  It could be a useful complement and addition to the electrification strategy, though.  The two paths are not mutually exclusive.  

This second path involves recombining CO2 and water into liquid fuels that mostly look and behave like the fuels we have today.  The difference is that they would not involve extracting fossil fuels and therefore would end the unbalancing of nature’s carbon cycle.  That imbalance has led to the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration from its historic level under 285 ppm to over 413 ppm today and on its way to exceeding 450 ppm.  Putting CO2 in the air is itself not a problem.  Every living thing does that.  The problem is not recycling the same about back into organic or carbohydrate material simultaneously.  That recycling to date has been done only by photosynthesis in plants.  That is changing.

Until recently, the idea of recycling massive amounts of CO2 was considered fanciful.  The usual response has been to assume one means growing some crop or using wastes and converting them into fuel.  That path is fraught with all sorts of problems, not the least of which is the limitation on how much fuel could be produced that way.  What is new is that there are many advances that indicate there could be an economical way to produce massive amounts of recycled carbon fuels in an industrial process that would not be as limited as biomass conversion.  These advances are fertile ground for some entrepreneurs to take the innovations and make a new set of commercial products out of them.  

There have been many new technologies created to do this industrial CO2 recycling.  A list of articles talking about these advances are at the end of this blog.  Some involve new catalysts.  Some are done electrochemically with new membranes.  There appears to be an increasing number of potential breakthroughs.  But what is missing is the proof that these breakthroughs can lead to an economical process.  And part of the proof is that CO2 can be captured and concentrated economically.  One company is trying to do that by capturing CO2 directly out of the air.  Others are focusing on already-concentrated CO2 sources like industrial exhausts. 

The products that can be made include methane (the main component of natural gas), methanol (which is a fuel but also a major industrial chemical with 75 million tons per year now made from converting fossil fuels), clean propane, clean gasoline, clean diesel, and a variety of other industrial chemicals and fuel additives.  Local company Greyrock Energy is a pioneer in this conversion process and is installing its initial plants right now.  Those plants are using natural gas otherwise wasted as a feedstock, but the company’s vision from the start was to create renewable fuels from biomass or other captured CO2.  Using waste gas has just been a low-hurdle way to get their conversion process commercialized.

There are many attractions to having recycled fuels available.  One is the ease of introduction.  Since they are virtually identical to conventional fuels, they can be introduced gradually into the current fuel streams, with no need for any equipment changes.  There could be requirements for ever-greater proportions of recycled fuels in the total fuel pool just the way the renewable portfolio standards gradually hiked the fraction of renewable electricity in the total mix of power sources.  That is already happening to a degree as CARB has acknowledged “Renewable Natural Gas” as a low-carbon source for meeting the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard.  The CPUC also has set up accounting mechanisms and standards for users to acquire Renewable Natural Gas and have it delivered to them through the existing gas pipelines.  So these recycled carbon fuels are already being gradually introduced into the conventional fuel streams.

Second, substituting recycled carbon fuels are a way to reduce the use of fossil fuels in the existing stock of buildings, vehicles, and industries, rather than trying to replace that equipment.  Doing so would probably take away some of the user anxiety over decarbonization, and make it easier to achieve.  Owners of cars with standard internal combustion engines could then become part of the climate solution rather than part of the problem. 

Third, the existing fuel delivery infrastructure of pipelines, filling stations, and distribution networks would not need to be abandoned, avoiding the need for massive investment in some new replacement infrastructure.  

Electrification is clearly a great way to decarbonize buildings and vehicles.  It brings other benefits such as improvements in indoor air quality from switch gas ranges for electric induction models.  But electrification tends to focus on new purchases—of homes, of vehicles, and of buildings.  Recycled carbon fuels are another decarbonization strategy and do well in decarbonizing existing energy-using equipment.  By no means is the recycling of CO2 back into fuels a proven commercial reality, but advances continue to move in that direction.  The fact that it is a relatively unnoticed idea means there is lots of room for entrepreneurial innovation.  The field is not crowded.  Someone may make a ton of money off of it.  How about you?


Recycled Carbon Fuels Reference List,chain%20lengths%20between%20five%20and%2011%20carbon%20atoms.,Various%20studies%20have…%204%20References%3A.%20%20More%20

Thomas Hall


Gary Simon is the Chair of CleanStarts Board. A seasoned energy executive and entrepreneur with 45 years of experience in business, government, and non-profits.

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Momentum, College of Engineering & Computer Science at Sacramento State

Terzo Power Announces Big Partnership

Terzo Power Announces Big Partnership


Sacramento, California, Nov. 5, 2020:

Terzo Power Systems, the leader in the development and design of electrohydraulic pump systems designed for on- & off-highway mobile vehicles and industrial applications, has partnered with the world-class manufacturing services of QCC in the launch and long-term production of the Hydrapulse.
Terzo Power Systems creates compact and energy-efficient smart hydraulic solutions for the electrification of fluid power. Their leading product, the Hydrapulse, is a complete electro-hydraulic system that is a fully integrated power-on-demand hydraulic power unit with built-in intelligence. The energy-efficient system, with an electronically controlled motor and pump assembly, are all contained in a small, compact footprint, making it the new leader in hydraulic performance.
“With the design and development of the Hydrapulse we are re-writing the benchmarks for performance, functionality, size, and cost,” said Mike Terzo, CEO of Terzo Power Systems. “This is not a traditional hydraulic system but a fully integrated product with unlimited applications and true performance capabilities. We needed a manufacturing partner that had the experience and expertise needed to support our growth and our vision for this product. QCC will be instrumental in our disruption of the fluid power industry.


Read the Full Release Here.

2020 GEW is Going Big

2020 GEW is Going Big

This year for Global Entrepreneurship Week CleanStart is partnering with Sacramento State’s College of Engineering and Computer Science and  Carlsen Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship to bring you a discussion on how engineering students, as well as professional engineers, can change the world through entrepreneurship.

This year, our region is celebrating BIG during Nov 16-22. But don’t wait until then to learn what’s going on! You’ll have to plan ahead if you want to participate in the annual Spark Venture Competition for business or social impact ventures less than 2 years old. There will be two $7500 1st place prizes and two $2500 2nd place prizes awarded–that’s a lotta dough! Learn more about the competition and/or apply here by November 6! Don’t wait until the last minute — the application requires some thought and pre-work. Spark Venture Competition, Speed Mentoring Plus Other Sacramento Startup Happenings

On November 17th, we bring you a fireside chat with Dr. Mariappan “Jawa” Jawaharlal, Associate Dean of College of Engineering and Computer Science at Sacramento State and Gary Simon, Chairman of CleanStart Sacramento, followed by a panel discussion with:

  • Isabel Gutierrez – CEO and Founder of Vistendo Inc. Gutierrez, founded Vistendo after learning about how she could leverage her skills and apply them to address athlete injury concerns. Blending two of her passions, Gutierrez hopes to Vistendo can keep athletes healthy through proactive communication and education.
  • Mark Henwood – Manager at Powersoft LLC.  Henwood is a habitual entrepreneur building and managing power providers and co-founding CleanStart.
  • Melanie Okoro, Ph.D – Founder, CEO, and Principal at Eco-Alpha Environmental Engineering Services. Dr Okoro has built Eco-Alpha to serve a dual purpose, providing engineering solutions, training community members to work on them.  Eco-Alpha successfully combines engineering with social equity by engaging communities with job training. 


Learn how the curiosity that drives engineers also drives innovation and entrepreneurship. November 17th at 10 am.  Register here!

You’ll also want to apply ahead of time for the Mentor Sacramento Office Hours Sprint happening from 11 am-12:30 pm on November 19. This speed mentoring session is an opportunity for early-stage entrepreneurs and startups to gain invaluable expert advice and connections to solve persistent issues in their ventures. Participants will have the opportunity to meet with several expert mentors, investors, advisors, subject matter experts, and experienced entrepreneurs in 15-minute sprint sessions. During each session, founders will provide details on their company and ask mentors for advice. Space is limited so apply now to secure a spot! 

 Global Entrepreneurship Week 2020 is presented by Western Health Advantage, If you are interested in learning about additional events, workshops, and panel discussions check the full list of activities here.

Thomas Hall


Thomas is the Executive Director of CleanStart. Thomas has a strong background in supporting small businesses, leadership, financial management and is proficient in working with nonprofits. He has a BS in Finance and a BA in Economics from California State University, Chico. Thomas has a passion for sustainability and a commitment to supporting non-profits in the region.


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