MGG joins PV recycling start-up

The generation of green electricity from photovoltaic systems is a hot topic of our time. But what happens to PV modules that are getting on in years? The Mostviertel-based start-up company 2nd Cycle is addressing precisely this question and developing solutions for recycling. The Müller-Guttenbrunn Group is on board as a business angel and supporter of this young, innovative company.

The Müller-Guttenbrunn Group acquired a stake in the Amstetten-based start-up company "2nd Cycle" at the start of 2024. Together with the well-known Austrian business angel Michael Altrichter, the Group is supporting the young founders in the development of automated upcycling systems for used photovoltaic modules.

"If you don't move with the times, you’ll be left behind. Innovation, research and development have always been essential components of Müller-Guttenbrunn's DNA. Since our company was founded, we have been known as early adopters and innovative technology pioneers," says MGG CEO Christian Müller-Guttenbrunn, explaining this step.

Ever since the company was founded, Müller-Guttenbrunn has not shied away from being the first company in the industry to recognize, take up and establish new topics. 

Around 3 million PV modules are installed every day.

The Mostviertel recycling pioneers at MGG see huge potential in the recycling of photovoltaic systems. Every day, around three million PV collectors are installed worldwide, which will reach the end of their product life in 15 to 20 years. "Another important factor is the rapidly advancing technological development of photovoltaic modules. Increasing module performance makes the replacement or upgrade of existing PV modules economically attractive for many system operators. True to the motto: more output from the same area," reports Christian Müller-Guttenbrunn. 

In Germany alone, 50 million modules are forecast to be returned each year by 2030. Someone has to take care of this recyclable material. This is precisely why the Müller-Guttenbrunn Group is involved in the Lower Austrian start-up company 2nd Cycle as an investor and cooperation partner. MGG supports the new company with economic participation, with searching a suitable company location and with different kinds of networking in the photovoltaic industry.

The young 2nd Cycle team with business angels Michael Altrichter and Christian Müller-Guttenbrunn: Gerald Eichler, Daniel Forstner (MGG), Michael Kimmeswenger (MGG), Maximilian Müller-Guttenbrunn (MGG), Michael Altrichter, Christian Müller-Guttenbrunn (MGG), Michael Prüller, Simon Prüller, Jakob Anger, Simon Schauppenlehner (from left). Photo: 2nd Cycle.

One of the first Austrian FlexCos.

The choice of corporate form also matches the start-up's innovative spirit. This is because the company was founded in anticipation of the introduction of the new FlexCo company form in Austria on January 1, 2024. Among other things, this structure can be used to create Enterprise Value Shares (UWA) for the design of a future employee participation program.

What is behind it? Five young mechanical engineers are currently developing an automated upcycling system for used photovoltaic modules. In future, the system will check the functionality of modules and analyze which parts of the modules are still functional and which are not. The analysis is carried out by cleaning the modules and checking the metal frames and glass plates for cracks or bubbles. In addition, technical test procedures such as electroluminescence are used to show which modules are still working and which are not. At the end of the process, a switch is used to decide which modules have sufficient efficiency and can be returned to the cycle (re-use) and which need to be recycled. And this is another area where MGG can get involved, as MGG Metran has been working for some time on how to separate and recycle non-reusable PV modules in a meaningful way.

A start-up with a lot of dynamism. The young founders already showed how much innovative spirit they have when they founded the company - one of the first Austrian Flexcos, by the way.

MGG and Michael Altrichter as business angels.

"The founding team is top-notch and complete. It consists of experts in mechanical engineering, automation technology, technical physics and data analysis and cooperates with renowned research institutions," explains Michael Altrichter, who is also a co-founder of the young company. An important aspect for success will also be the corresponding network. For example, contact is being sought with large plant operators in order to cooperate. The currently still high costs for the disposal of PV modules are the main argument in favor of 2nd Cycle - probably one of the top arguments for the success of the new company.

The founding team of Simon and Michael Prüller, Gerald Eichler, Simon Schauppenlehner and Jakob Anger is pursuing an ambitious goal: by 2031, around eight percent of the EU-wide return flow of used PV modules is to be processed in 20 upcycling plants, which could save around 200,000 tons of PV waste and prevent 75 million tons of CO2 emissions. Christian Müller-Guttenbrunn finds this an exciting prospect: "An idea that not only makes economic sense, but also makes a decisive contribution to climate protection. We are happy to be involved, because in our eyes this is real sustainability!"

You can find more information about 2nd Cycle at: