Tens of millions of solar panels from early solar installations are about to reach the end of their lifespans in Japan. In response to this challenge, two prominent companies have joined forces. On July 18, Marubeni Corporation partnered with Hamada to establish Rexia Corporation.

Rexia’s primary objective is to offer comprehensive services for reusing and recycling solar panels. This includes facilitating the sale, purchase, and disposal of used panels.

The driving force behind this initiative is the projected retirement of around 800,000 tons of solar panels annually starting in the mid-2030s. Rexia also anticipates that Japan will generate several thousand tons of solar panel waste each year due to extreme weather damage. This presents another potential source of demand.

One of the main components of Rexia’s business model is an all-encompassing online platform that Marubeni has been diligently developing since 2021. The platform serves as a marketplace to buy and sell used panels while providing essential information about each panel. This information includes specifications, usage history, and performance data.

The online platform also enables users to request recycling services.

Previously, efforts to refurbish used solar panels in Japan encountered obstacles due to challenges in ensuring their quality. To address this concern, Rexia offers evaluation services for panels using an established performance inspection methodology. Subsequently, Rexia can sell these panels with a product warranty. Rexia will partner with a major insurance company to provide defect liability insurance.

For solar panels that are no longer suitable for reuse, Rexia plans to collect and transfer them to specialized solar panel recycling companies across Japan. These recycling facilities are equipped with advanced technology to effectively separate the panels into valuable resources, such as glass and cell sheets.

While Marubeni and Hamada are leading the efforts to create a solar panel recycling industry, they are also seeking collaborations with solar module and recycling experts to enhance their overall capabilities.