Next Energy and Marubeni have partnered to recycle used solar panels. Next Energy is a Solar PV manufacturer while Marubeni is a trading conglomerate.
In association with the Mitsubishi Research Institute, the two companies plan to develop and show the potential of blockchain in reporting and recording information on the reuse and recycling of used solar panels.
After the Fukushima disaster, Japan has focused on the deployment of solar PV.
According to Ministry of Environment data quoted by Next Energy, Solar cells have a life of around 20-30 years. As estimated, by the mid-2030s, around 800,000 tons of solar cells will need to be replaced every year, while some will be damaged or need to be upgraded. Some can be reused but others will have to be recycled.
With the blockchain, it is intended to provide a non-tamperable record verifying the status and traceability of the solar cells and their components, from the first removal to final recycling, and thereby establish a market to encourage the recycling and the reuse of raw materials.
These steps will ensure a reduction in industrial waste which ends up in landfills. The reuse of PV modules will also help in the reduction of carbon emissions apart from other environmental benefits.
Since 2005, Next Energy is recycling solar PV under the REBORN Technology brand. From the inspection of over 40,000 used solar cells, the company found out that after 25 years of use, they can retain up to 80% performance.
The company is also working on drafting the guidelines for the re-sale of solar panels developed by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO).
Apart from the blockchain demonstration, Next Energy also has launched a used solar panel recovery demonstration, with assistance from the Environment Ministry.
The solar modules which are obsolete, can either be taken to a site of collection or will be collected without any charge, and later it will be recycled.