First Solar, which makes some of the world’s largest solar projects using its thin-film solar panels, has nearly halved its emissions while reducing its energy use, even while making more solar panels, the company said in its 2017 sustainability report, which came out yesterday (Aug. 7).
“Thanks to our thin film technology and efficient manufacturing process, the environmental impact of a First Solar PV system is about two-thirds lower than the average PV system available in the market today. In fact, our new Series 6 module technology is expected to further increase that gap,” said Mark Widmar, First Solar CEO. “In other words, we now deliver high-performance PV modules that can successfully compete against silicon panels, while also delivering the fastest energy payback time and the lowest lifecycle impact in the industry. This is no small achievement.”
The company said it has nearly halved its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity compared to its 2008 levels. That surpasses its goal 35 percent GHG emissions reduction goal for 2016. The amount of energy the company needs to produce its solar panels also have fallen by 30 percent between 2009 and 2016, the company said. That’s despite manufacturing increasing by 24 percent in 2016.
First Solar attributed the reduction in emissions intensity to a number of things, including increased in module efficiency, manufacturing throughput and capacity utilization, energy conservation and low-carbon initiatives. The company also said that the decreased emissions intensity came about because of cleaner electricity from the grid.
The manufacturer also reduced its manufacturing waste to 9.1 grams per watt in 2016. That’s down 74 percent from the 35.1 grams of waste produced per watt in 2009. The company also said it recovers 90 percent of the semiconductor material and glass from its decommissioned cadmium telluride modules.
“The reduction in our environmental footprint is entirely by design; the result of taking a long-term view on continuously improving our environmental performance while delivering a competitive, reliable, high-quality product,” said Alex Heard, First Solar’s Senior Vice President of Global Technical Services. “Our commitment remains stronger than ever, and we will continue to work to improve our performance, maintaining the benchmark for the rest of the industry.”Tweet