Anticipating a high volume of used material as Japan’s early solar installations age out of service, Tokyo-based conglomerate, Marubeni Corporation, and Hamada, an Osaka-based industrial group, formed Rexia Corporation to provide solar PV panel reuse and recycling services, including the sale, purchase, and disposal of used panels.
The partners are anticipating that demand will be driven by the forecasted 800,000 tons of solar panels expected to retire each year, starting in the mid-2030s. Another potential source is damaged material caused by natural disasters which can create several thousand tons of waste each year.
A key part of the solution is a one-stop online platform to buy and sell used panels that Marubeni has been working on since 2021, a Marubeni spokesperson told pv magazine. The spokesperson said that the platform contains information about used panels, such as panel specifications, usage history, performance data, and it also supports requests for recycling services. The plan is that the platform will provide the infrastructure system for future PV reuse and recycling, according to the spokesperson.
To date, initiatives to refurbish used solar panels have stalled in Japan due to difficulties in guaranteeing their quality. To avoid that issue, Rexia offers services to assess and purchase panels based on an established performance inspection methodology. It can then sell the panels with a product warranty, providing defect liability insurance through a previously announced partnership with a major insurance company.
Solar panels that cannot be reused will be collected and transferred to solar panel recycling companies throughout Japan that have advanced recycling equipment to separate panels into glass, cell sheets, and other resources.
Marubeni’s spokesperson told that the partners expect to provide the management of reuse and recycling but are also still “looking for partners with expertise on PV modules, recycling technologies.”
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