Itochu to turn solar panel trash into treasure with French partner
Author: Yuta Takagi and Mamoru Tsuge
Japanese trading house Itochu is partnering with a French startup to debut a solar panel recycling business here as early as 2024, salvaging valuable materials from aging cells that otherwise might end up in a landfill. Itochu will work with Rosi, whose recycling technology can recover silver, copper and silicon from solar cells, enabling most of the material in each cell to be reused. They plan to build multiple facilities, each capable of processing 10,000 to 15,000 tonnes per year. As solar power gains traction in Japan, the country will face a wave of panels nearing the end of their useful lives in the 2030s. Itochu has bought a stake in Rosi for the business, apparently taking on newly issued shares for hundreds of millions of yen (100 million yen equals $720,000). Other partners will be sought for the venture, potentially including industrial waste disposal businesses and nonferrous-metals companies with experience in recycling. Two other companies in which Itochu holds stakes - independent power provider i Grid Solutions and solar power developer Clean Energy Connect - will help with recovering panels.