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CleanStart Perspectives with ENACT Systems

CleanStart Perspectives with ENACT Systems

Join us to learn about ENACT’s end-to-end business platform for solar project management from CEO Deep Chakraborty.

ENACT’s end-to-end business platform accelerates sales, financing and operations for distributed solar project developers, distributors and installers. ENACT’s platform also provides marketplace and analytics services for a range of stakeholders. Learn about the company and its platform from CEO Deep Chakraborty.

CleanStart Perspectives, formerly CleanStart To Do’s, are short online conversations to connect the greater Sacramento clean tech entrepreneurship community and share insights, experiences, and outlooks. Join us as we welcome our featured guests to share their perspective on what entrepreneurs and innovators can do to thrive and grow.

Register and we’ll send you the Zoom login information prior to the meeting time.

CleanStart Perspectives are recorded through Zoom.

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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. 

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | Tobin, EY, Moss Adams, Momentum

BlueTech Valley, PowerSoft.biz, Revrnt

College of Engineering & Computer Science at Sacramento State

Thinking Small and Simple = Thinking Smart

Thinking Small and Simple = Thinking Smart

Over the past decade, rooftop solar has made a big impact on energy generation. Now, in California, energy can be “free” during the day when solar is abundant. That is one of the reasons you have seen CleanStart talk about storage so much. To battle, the BIG problem of Climate Change Utilities and new companies have been advancing storage solutions. One of those companies, Simpl Global, led by Farid Dibachi has developed a battery around the needs of rooftop solar consumers. 

Farid Dibachi is a habitual entrepreneur and has been innovating to make storage simple, hence Simpl Global.  Rooftop solar owners are conscious of their energy cost, and Utilities switching to Time of Use becomes a pain point.  Dibachi saw solar customers getting hit twice with the shift to Time of Use. With their solar systems generating power 3 to 5 hours a day when prices are cheap, they get less for the electricity they generate and pay more for electricity when they are not generating.

From Simpl Global Slides

Residential consumers install solar because it made sense as a capital investment providing a return.  Why batteries were not taking off as solar had is because the cost has typically been greater than the savings.  With that in mind, Dibachi formed Simpl Global with engineers and entrepreneurs to tackle these challenges. They created the SimplBox with innovative technology in Impedance matching, IoT networked controls, and plastics engineered for thermally protecting the energy storage, with a simple design for easy install under a solar panel. 

Their goal was to make a battery that was easy to install and use while being affordable.  They have created SimplBox a safer lithium iron phosphate battery with a unique battery management system. Conventional battery storage systems for home PV require a number of individual devices to manage power flows.  Farid and his team decided to make a battery that paired easily with rooftop solar and relied on clever electronics to replace many of the additional devices.  What they have created is a smart battery that efficiently accepts and delivers power simultaneously.  

Dibachi is particularly proud of the ease of installing and how their advancements in impedance matching have led to a battery management system with high efficiency that can just be plugged in.  The system works like a series of valves efficiently accepting and delivering power simultaneously.  Its efficacy and simplicity allow it to be modular, meaning expanding storage capacity is as easy as plugging-in another SimplBox and using off the shelf inverters for the systems connection to the grid.  This is big, because of its versatility, but it also allows it to be small.

SimplBox System by Simpl Global

This versatility allows for the SimplBox to scale up for use in Utility Solar. It isn’t limited by the capacity of the SimplBox, because you can add more without having to change the battery management or specialized hardware. Being able to “just add more” is an advantage for utilities and solar power companies looking to make incremental changes.  

In residential storage, LG and Tesla have developed storage options greater than 10 kwh. They make them large so they can support a larger solar system and capture the max power possible.  In Sacramento, a solar system can easily fill an LG and Tesla Battery in the summer, but the average daily generation is ~6 kwh.  That low generation with install cost batteries that size is cost-prohibitive to many, especially smaller urban systems. The SimplBox is made smaller and modular, with the idea that more solar customers can take advantage of it. 

All of this addresses the pain points of residential consumers by giving them control and reducing the cost. Simpl Global plans on selling through existing solar installers and distributors this August after they complete their UL Certification in July.

Farid Dibachi spoke at our recent CleanTech Meetup on Simpl Energy.  You can watch it here and read about the meetup here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | Tobin, EYBlueTech Valley, GT Law

Moss AdamsPowerSoft.biz, Revrnt, Momentum

College of Engineering & Computer Science at Sacramento State

Packed Crowd Hears about Rising Stars of Solar

Packed Crowd Hears about Rising Stars of Solar

It was standing room only on December 5 at our last MeetUp of the year.  The theme centered on some new products in solar—our regional “Rising Stars”.   First was Erica Lindstrom of Sustainable Technologies with their Facet product, a clever anchoring system to put PV racks on flat roofs on commercial buildings without causing leaks. Since over 80% of the cost of rooftop solar is in the racking, labor and power electronics, Facet is cutting costs where it counts the most.  It may not be obvious, but putting PV panels on a commercial building roof is not so easy. Usually the racks are just laid on the roof and ballasted with concrete blocks to prevent them from moving, or a system must be engineered to anchor where there are beams underneath one can bolt into. Using Facet reduces this part of the installation cost by 40-50% and provides more assurance that the roof remains leakproof.  Erica Lindstrom said the Facet anchors are catching on rapidly, and being approved by more and more building departments, leading to rapid growth. Facet was a runner up in the recent regional Sustainability Innovation Awards. We have profiled them in another blog

Facet Design

Second up was Kevin Logue with Spotlight Solar.  His product is a “solar tree”. It is a mounting system for putting panels on “branches” off a central “trunk”.   The result provides shade, a placed to sit and USB outlets for charging as well as 115 V AC outlets. A typical installation provides 3.6 kW of power.  It is not as economical as a ground mount or roof top solar, but that is not the point. The idea is to make people more aware of solar PV and use it in parks and plazas.  It is as much a piece of art as a power generator. Kevin is based in Fair Oaks as the West Coast salesman for Spotlight based in North Carolina. He already has several projects underway in the area, some funded in part by SMUD.  As a part of their approach, they train local workers to install these systems. They are looking for more sites.

Then Al Rich of ACR Solar presenting his innovation the MegaMat.   Al has been in the solar business for 45+ years. He got his start in selling solar thermal systems when PV was too expensive.  Now he does both kinds of installations since PV became economic. But his real passion is for collecting the heat from the PV panel so that two products are harvested from the same area of sunshine.  His MegaMat is attached to the back of a PV panel and circulates water. The water gets hot and the panel gets cooled so that it actually puts out more electricity. Heat is the enemy of PV efficiency. On a hot summer day, the PV panel may reach 150° F.  The MegaMat could lower that temp by 40°. As a rule of thumb, PV panel output decreases by about 0.25% for every degree F above 77°F, so dropping the temp by 40°F would add 10% to the output. The MegaMat is composed of an extruded high-density polymer with a lifetime of 50 years in direct sun.  Since it installs under the PV panel, lifetime should be better. Al has the MegaMat on a test home now to confirm the concept.  

 

Al Rich shares his ACR Solar experience and MegaMat 

These were really unique presentations, and demonstrated how diverse our solar clean tech companies are in the region.  Our next MeetUp is planned for the third week in January. Keep a watch for the announcement.

Thomas Hall

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | Tobin, EY, Stoel Rives, Greenberg Traurig LLP

BlueTech Valley, Buchalter, Moss Adams, PowerSoft.biz

College of Engineering & Computer Science at Sacramento State

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Big Solar Big Tilt

Big Solar Big Tilt

Ever look at giant solar carports and wonder “Wouldn’t they be more effective if they followed the sun?” “Why can’t someone make something that allows them to follow the Sun?”  Well, someone has. Scarlet Solar.

Most solar tracking systems you see are complex with chains and gears.  Complexity means more cost and more chances to break. Trackers are significantly limited by the weight of solar panels, so most available ones are not practical for large carports. The conventional wisdom is that tracking systems cost vs benefit is not as appealing as just adding more stationary panels. 

But Scarlet Solar is looking to change that with the SolarTiltPort. Scarlet Solar is a recent graduate of our CEO Crash course and is touring with their TiltPort to demonstrate it. TiltPort uses a simple technology (a jackscrew) to create a significantly better product.  We went out to their demo location near Rio Vista and it is impressive, tilting a massive solar array 30 ft in sweeping wind above us. (The wind actually cools the panels making them even more efficient.) It was impressive. The installation has been in operation for 2 years and beat  production expectations generating 2,032 kWh/kW in 2018.  

The big solar carports are an ideal opportunity for Scarlet Solar. They are usually tilted at a fixed angles depending on the location. This limits the harnessable energy available, as the panel is rarely pointed right at the sun. Scarlet Solar’s TiltPort has the ability to tilt at (+/-) 30 degree angle to the sun’s direction, facing East in the morning, West at night.  It generates  a 40% increase in electricity production for the same cost of a stationary system and can support multiple panels, making it more scalable.

The TiltPort is customizable, from hundreds of units for corporations to waterproof sheds powering farms.  Each 10-car-size, 36KW, Plug-n-Play unit is installed in hours versus weeks with traditional carports.  Scarlet Solar exhibited at the recent solar Power International show and got a warm reception from several interested customers.  Now they are looking for seed money and a production facility.  

Scarlet will be presenting at our next MeetUp on December 5 at Hacker Lab.  Be sure to come!  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Osato Evbuomwan is a CSU Sacramento Mechanical Engineering Graduate Student who is the newest associate at CleanStart. Growing up in Nigeria with smog from backup diesel/ gasoline generators inspired Osato to work towards building a sustainable future for the world. 

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | Tobin, EY, Stoel Rives, Revrnt, Hacker Lab

BlueTech Valley, Buchalter, Moss Adams, PowerSoft.biz

College of Engineering & Computer Science at Sacramento State


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