6 August 2020
First Solar joins RE100 and pledges to power 100% of global operations renewably by 2028
First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA – which makes thin-film photovoltaic modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe) as well as providing engineering, procurement & construction (EPC) services – has committed to powering 100% of its global photovoltaic (PV) solar manufacturing operations with renewable energy by 2028. As part of an interim goal, the firm has pledged to transition its facilities in the USA to carbon-free electricity by 2026.
The commitments (which cover both ‘Scope 1’ direct emissions from First Solar-owned or -controlled sources and ‘Scope 2’ indirect emissions from the generation of electricity purchased from third-party sources) were announced as First Solar joined RE100, a global, collaborative initiative bringing together influential businesses committed to 100% renewable power. RE100 is led by international non-profit the Climate Group in partnership with CDP.
“With this pledge, we will further lower our embodied carbon footprint, already the lowest in the industry, and move towards realizing the full promise of cleaner solar,” says CEO Mark Widmar. “The solar manufacturing industry has a collective responsibility to set challenging decarbonization goals for itself, and we hope that our decision encourages other PV manufacturers to make their own commitments.”
The only US company among the world’s largest solar manufacturers, First Solar celebrated two decades since its founding in 1999 and has shipped over 25GWDC of PV modules to over 45 countries around the world. With facilities in the USA, Malaysia and Vietnam, First Solar exited 2019 with a total global annualized manufacturing capacity of 5.5GWDC. It is also the Western Hemisphere’s largest solar manufacturer, with a 1.9GWDC manufacturing footprint in Ohio.
“By relying on long-term, fixed-price renewable energy, we’re not only investing in reducing our exposure to energy price volatility, but we’re also investing in a sustainable energy future,” says chief manufacturing operations officer Mike Koralewski. “As part of our strategy, we will strive to support the delivery of additional renewable energy capacity, especially in emerging corporate renewables markets in Malaysia and Vietnam.”
Designed and developed at the its R&D centers in California and Ohio, First Solar’s thin-film PV module technology has a carbon footprint that is said to be up to six times lower than crystalline silicon PV panels manufactured using conventional, energy-intensive production methods. Its modules already deliver the lowest carbon solar electricity available, it is claimed, and the firm expects the carbon footprint of its modules to fall by an additional 40% by 2028.
“We’re glad to see First Solar leverage its extensive experience in enabling corporate renewables to decarbonize its own operations,” comments Sam Kimmins, head of RE100, the Climate Group. “Today’s RE100 pledge is the natural evolution of its commitment to sustainability and carbon-efficient manufacturing. We urge others in the solar manufacturing industry to follow suit and commit to 100% renewable electricity.”
First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe