Solar panel deal set to enhance Japanese energy sustainability efforts

Japanese renewable energy giant Marubeni Corporation (Marubeni)  has announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Sompo Japan Insurance (Sompo Japan), and Sompo Risk Management for the appropriate reuse and recycling of used solar panels.

The MoU has been designed to establish a system under which Sompo Japan will provide a defect warranty for used solar panels that Marubeni plans to start selling in FY 2023 via an information management platform that will be established with the country’s ministry of the environment.

Solar power plants in Japan have continued to expand since the introduction of the Feed-in Tariff in July 2012, with a cumulative total of approximately 64 GW installed as of the end of September 2021. Furthermore, the country’s Sixth Basic Energy Plan aims for a cumulative installed base of approximately 104-118 GW by 2030.

However, since the lifespan of a solar panel is approximately 25 to 30 years, the expected mass disposal of used solar panels in the mid-2030s is becoming recognised as a social issue.

“Quality assurance is a significant issue when it comes to the reuse trade of used solar panels,” explained a spokesman for Marubeni. “This marks the first time in Japan that a defect warranty for used solar panels has been provided through a platform.

“In addition, the used solar panels acquired by Sompo Japan, for which Sompo Japan will pay insurance claims, will be properly reused and recycled in collaboration with the management platform through Sompo Risk Management.

The company added reuse and recycling through the scheme is expected to lead to the recycling of raw materials and a reduction in the amount of industrial waste sent to landfills.

As part of its efforts to promote sustainability management, Marubeni will continue to actively engage in renewable energy power generation projects, including solar power generation projects, and will “take the initiative in addressing social issues related to the disposal of solar panels from a 3R (reduce, reuse, recycle) perspective”, aiming to contribute to a circular economy.

Sompo Japan and Sompo Risk management said they were committed to making “social contributions toward the realisation of ‘Sompo’s Purpose,’ which focuses on ‘building a society where all people can enjoy their own lives in good health and abundance and enjoy the feeling of living in a kind of ‘theme park’ of safety, security and health’.”

“Starting with this MoU, Marubeni, Sompo Japan, and Sompo Risk Management will jointly address social issues and contribute to the formation of a circular economy,” the spokesman added.