With growing consumer interest in using sustainably sourced products and environmental obligations for businesses to meet, the solar PV industry is gearing up to meet the challenge as manufacturers in the solar PV supply chain are looking out for ways to lower the carbon footprint of their products.
After Norwegian solar wafer maker NorSun proved a low CO2 footprint for its monocrystalline silicon wafers produced using Czochralski process, claiming to be the first in the world to receive the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), another Norwegian solar company has secured it too (see NorSun Secures EPD For Low CO2 Footprint Wafers).
Solar silicon module producer REC Group has announced achieving EPD from EPD Norway for its solar grade silicon and for multicrystalline silicon blocks made by the company.
REC Group subsidiary REC Solar Norway AS, with an annual production capacity of over 8,000 MT corresponding to about 2.5 GW annual solar panel production capacity, has been testified a carbon footprint of 11.2 kg CO2-eq per kg silicon under the EPD.
“This is by far the lowest climate impact of any solar grade silicon product, and between 5 to 15 times less than solar grade silicon produced by the dominant production methods,” claimed REC. REC Solar Norway is producing so called upgraded metallurgical silicon unlike the big silicon producers that use chemical methods to manufacture solar silicon.
The EPD factors in environmental impact of all the components of a finished product, production process and transport, basically conducting a life cycle analysts (LCA). REC Solar Norway uses a metallurgical purification method to produce its high purity silicon for solar cells that it argues uses upwards of 75% less energy than usually deployed Siemens process of the major silicon manufacturers.
“With an EPD for solar grade silicon, authorities, developers and individual customers can objectively assess their choice of solar PV product with respect to its embedded carbon footprint. Although solar panels do not generate emissions once installed, the production methods of a panel can differ significantly,” added REC Solar Norway’s Managing Director David Verdú.