CIRCUSOL: Solar power business models towards a circular economy in…
SunCrafter has become a new demo partner of CIRCUSOL. We bring you an interview with Lisa Wendzich and Sebastian Finke from SunCrafter about the challenges that a startup is facing nowadays, how it is to be a woman CEO in a tech business, and what we can expect from the demo site.
From the point of view as a technology startup in the solar industry, what are the challenges you are facing?
Some people still do not take the second life approach for solar panel seriously. There is still the perception that second life solar modules are inefficient and unreliable. Next, scaling the business is a big challenge. This is due to relatively high upfront investment costs for acquiring and analysing the modules. Also, shipping can be a big issue especially when it needs to be sent outside of Europe. Finally, making sure that once the panels reach their end of life we need to make sure they are recycled properly. Lastly, searching for business cases is also a challenge since the price of new modules has decreased significantly.
SunCrafter manufactures maintenance-free solar generators from PV modules. These products can produce power without depending on a battery or other fragile electronic parts. Could you explain further how does this unique technology work?
We remanufacture decommissioned solar panels that are adapted to our use cases. E.g. EasyPanel using our unique SunCrafter procedure. For more complex cases like e-mobility, we have a different approach and add a battery system in order to provide a reliable charging station for light electric vehicles.
What is the acceptance of the products amongst citizens? How to build trust with the citizens regarding the recycled/reused products?
Trust is not an issue. For citizens, it is most important that the product works. We receive great feedback in the Rural and Event sector for the second life approach. However, some people who are unfamiliar with solar believe that the intermittent nature of solar PV energy makes it an unreliable source of energy.
The CEO of SunCrafter is LISA WENDZICH. How is it to be a woman in a tech start-up in a predominantly male industry?
Ambiguous, as it facilitates attention but undermines credibility. Generally, the renewable energy and circular economy sector seem more open to females in leadership positions than other male-dominated industries such as conventional energy or venture capital for example.
The SunCrafter team
SunCrafter has become a new partner of CIRCUSOL as a demo site. Could you tell us what is the main purpose of this demo?
We want to demonstrate that second life solar can also be a business case in an urban environment. There is a growing electricity demand in cities due to the increased presence of light electric vehicles like eBikes and eScooters. Charing these vehicles is still a big issue and electricity access in a city can be very difficult because of complex regulations. With our off-grid solution, it is way easier to provide charging infrastructure.
Why is there a need to reconsider the market of Micro-eMobility?
Micro-eMobility has gone through a big hype the recent months. Now it turns out that there are several issues attached to it: One of them being the lack of sustainable charging infrastructure mentioned above. Also, parking is a problem since the small vehicles can end up on sidewalks and bike lanes constituting a big problem for other people.
What do you expect to achieve as CIRCUSOL partner?
We want to establish second life solar as a viable business case because we are convinced that there is a strong need for a circular economy in the solar sector. We also would like to increase circularity by adding second-life batteries to our charging stations. There is a lot of potential through the strong partners and competencies within the Circusol network to really make circular solar competitive.
How do you see the future of solar in the European energy transition?
We believe that solar plays an essential role in the European and in the global energy transition. It is the least invasive of the renewables, prices are competitive, economical storage solutions are emerging and with the circular use of modules, there will not be any resource problems hindering the extensive expansion of solar PV.