CleanTechies
CleanTechies Podcast
#169 Urban Mining, Actual Solar Panel Lifespan, End of Life Engineering, & More w/ Adam Saghei (WeRecycleSolar)
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#169 Urban Mining, Actual Solar Panel Lifespan, End of Life Engineering, & More w/ Adam Saghei (WeRecycleSolar)


🌎 Welcome back to the CleanTechies PodLetter, founder edition.

Today, we are talking to Adam Saghei from WeRecycleSolar.

Having a serial entrepreneur on was a ton of fun because he has picked up the tools over and over again until he’s gotten to this point.

In today’s conversation, we discuss a LOT, but some of the notable things are…

  • The real lifespan of solar panels (vs the forecasted lifespan)

  • How they are partnering with OEMs to improve the design with end-of-life in mind

  • And something that sounds way too cool… Urban Mining

Enjoy today’s episode, and let us know your thoughts in the comments


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The Guest: Adam Saghei

Adam is the Founder and CEO at WeRecycleSolar, a company doing… you guess it - solar panel recycling.

Adam has always been an entrepreneur from the earliest days. Eventually, he built a successful business disposing of electronics in line with cyber security best practices.

Coming into 2020, they started to get more and more requests to dispose of solar panels.

That’s when they bet the farm on a hard pivot to serve that space exclusively.

In 2024 they are aiming to process 500k panels

The Startup: WeRecycleSolar

Solar Panel Recycling / Disposal, Circularity, Supply Chain

One-liner: refurbishing and recycling solar panels to increase the circularity of the industry.

Born out of Takovery Inc in 2020, WeRecycleSolar is now taking in solar panels and refurbishing them to sell into the secondary market or breadking down the panels to sell these materials into other supply chains.

Often solar panels are replace or upgraded early to increase the return for the investors on these solar farms. Since the panels still have life, WRS helps companies refurbish them and sell them at a discout to secondary markets where they desperatly need solar instalations.

In many cases, the panels are damaged or fully used up. They help breakdown these materials to get them to other supply chains. In the future, when the volume is high enough, we are likely to see a circular supply chain for the PV panel manufacturing spce.

Because of their experience at the end of life, WRS is able to work closely with OEMs to improve how they make things so these products become more circular in nature, and can be disasembled more easily in future iterations of the produt.


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📝 Show Notes:

Topics

  • 01:34 Intro and Background

  • 03:15 The Problem of End-of-Life Solar Panels

  • 08:52 Financial Implications of Shorter Lifespan

  • 13:33 Recycling and Refurbishing Panels

  • 16:21 Reusing Materials in the Supply Chain

  • 21:06 Origins of We Recycle Solar

  • 23:29 Introduction to Returns Management Programs

  • 24:28 Starting the Refurbishing and Recycling Process

  • 25:32 Pivoting to a New Business Model

  • 26:44 Entrepreneurial Mindset and Taking Risks

  • 28:14 Scaling the Business and Future Growth

  • 30:51 Technology and Innovation in Recycling Processes

  • 31:38 Intellectual Property and Strategic Components

  • 32:34 Business Model and Potential Partnerships

  • 35:54 Current Scale and Future Goals

  • 38:24 Roadblocks and Challenges

  • 39:15 Funding and Bootstrapping the Business

  • 40:54 Acquiring Talent and Building Culture

  • 43:38 Supporting the Future of the Industry

  • 49:29 Takeaways

Links


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Here’s the thing: Somil and I both have day jobs, so if you’re in the helping mood, we both have an ask for you today.

Somil: I’m currently seeking to connect with founders in the built environment space for a project I’m working on. If you’re in that space, schedule a chat here!

Silas: As many of you know, my day job is solving people’s hiring headaches in climate - do you have a hiring headache? Well, let me be your Advil. (booking here)


🙏🏽 Thanks for tuning in, and see you all next episode!

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CleanTechies
CleanTechies Podcast
CleanTechies is a Podcast and Newsletter where Somil & Silas interview the leading ClimateTech Founders and Investors to share their advice and journeys with other Founders and Investors to help others succeed.