Yesterday (Dec. 10) The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) introduced its Sixth Annual 2015 Solar Scorecard. The annual report ranks solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturers on the amount of toxic materials in their solar panels as well as their sustainability and social justice practices.
SunPower, SolarWorld and Trina Solar topped the rankings, each scoring higher than 90 percent. Among other findings more responding solar manufacturers are using less toxic materials in their solar panels.
“The number of companies committed to reporting environmental practices continues to fluctuate wildly from year to year,” said Sheila Davis, executive director of Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. “The inconsistent participation is largely due to bankruptcies, restructuring and new entries into the Solar PV manufacturing market. We need consistent industrywide sustainability practices and reporting procedures that consumers can expect from all solar companies.”
Despite the inconsistencies, more solar manufacturers responded to SVTC’s survey. In 2015 13 companies responded to the SVTC survey, more than doubling the number of companies that responded, according to the organization. New respondents included LG, Jinko, Kyocera, AUO and WINAICO. “The 13 companies that responded to the 2015 Solar Scorecard represent just 35.8 percent of the total PV module market share, with the remainder of the information gathered from publicly available documentation,” the report said.
SunPower topped the list, achieving 97 out of 100 points. It fell two points short of the 20 possible points in the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) category and one point short of the five possible in the High Value Recycling (HVR) category. SolarWorld was second with 93 points, Trina was third with 92 points, REC was fourth with 82 and Yingli was fifth with 80.
“The SVTC Solar Scorecard requires PV module manufacturers to report on sustainability performance metrics, disclose environmental, health, and safety certifications and report other information,” said Associate Professor Dustin Mulvaney of San Jose State University, who helped SVTC interpret the scores. “These practices are increasingly commonplace in other electronics and semiconductor industries. The fact that company scores continue to increase is a sign that solar industry leaders are integrating sustainability reporting into operations.”
No company received the 20 points available in the EPR metric or the HVR metric. They require The EPR metrics require companies to fully fund an end-of-life collection and recycling system for their solar panels, that they write a letter to Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) urging EPR policy support, marks each panel as not fit for trash and includes a link to its recycling policy. The HVR metric is based on how much of its high value materials are recycled into products of similar value and quality.
The scorecard also evaluates the use of toxic materials in solar panels like cadmium, a known carcinogen. Some thin-film solar panel manufacturers like First Solar use cadmium in their panels, as such it scored zero points in the module toxicity metric and lower point on other metrics. In the past that company has noted, however, that using cadmium in its modules for 20 or more years, keeps the cadmium from leaching into landfills or otherwise being improperly disposed of.
Read the full report here: http://www.solarscorecard.com/2015/2015-SVTC-Solar-Scorecard.pdfTweet