New Solar Alliance Formed to Advance Ultra Low-Carbon Solar in US, EU

A new solar photovoltaic (PV) alliance has been formed by the leading renewable energy (RE) companies from a diverse cross-section of the solar industry to mainly target the US and the European Union markets.

The Alliance’s founding members include Hemlock Semiconductor, First Solar, NorSun, Q CELLS, REC Silicon and Wacker.

The Ultra Low-Carbon Solar Alliance (The Alliance) is a collaboration of solar PV companies and other stakeholders seeking to educate market participants and policy makers about the relevance of embodied supply chain emissions to the GHG performance of solar energy systems.

It seeks to encourage solar supply chain emission reductions via sourcing of PV with low embodied carbon and policies to support the deployment of ultra low-carbon solar.

The Alliance will work to build greater market awareness around how solar supply chain decarbonization is producing solar panels with low embodied carbon to help governments and companies meet aggressive sustainability goals. 

The COVID-19 pandemic and the looming climate crisis have forced companies to rethink how they build their products and procure materials. Much of the focus on supply chain decarbonization has been on energy-intensive industries such as cement, steel, and glass. But the Alliance is embracing a unique opportunity to decarbonize the solar energy supply chain.

Commenting on the development, Michael Parr, Alliance Executive Director, said that “every solar project is dramatically better than a fossil fuel plant, but not all solar panels are created equal.”

“Solar projects can reduce their embodied carbon by 50 percent by using ultra low-carbon solar panels available in the market today. France, South Korea and other countries are prioritizing ultra low-carbon solar panels in projects. Companies and policymakers in the US can be doing the same,” Michael Parr added.

Solar PV technology produces no emissions in its operations, but there are emissions associated with how it is produced and transported – what is called its "embodied carbon." A study by Argonne National Laboratory found significant differences in the embodied carbon of solar panels, depending on how and where they are made. For example, solar panels produced with polysilicon from China have twice the embodied carbon as panels made with materials from the US or EU. Thin film solar modules show similar performance. 

These ultra low-carbon solar panels are in the market today from multiple producers at competitive prices.

US companies are beginning to specify ultra low-carbon panels in their RFPs and demonstrate that they can significantly reduce the embodied carbon in these new energy systems without any impact on price competition. 

Parr further said that “this technology is available today at market rates and can help companies and government cuts their projects’ carbon footprint by 50 per cent.”

“It's a win, win, win. It's better for the environment, doesn't come with a price premium, and can represent advanced manufacturing in the US and EU.”

Solar PV | News published on 12/10/2020 by Manu Tayal

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