14 October 2020
First Solar’s Series 6 is first PV module to be EPEAT-rated
The Green Electronics Council (GEC) has announced that the Series 6 cadmium telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) module, designed and manufactured by First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA, is the world’s first PV product to be included in the launch of the EPEAT Photovoltaic and Inverters product category.
EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) is said to be the leading life-cycle based Type-1 ecolabel used by public and private sector institutional purchasers globally. To be the first PV product included in the new EPEAT PV Modules and Inverters category, First Solar Series 6 sustainability benefits have been verified by a reputable third-party international certification firm.
The EPEAT ecolabel allows easy identification of credible sustainable electronic products from a broad range of manufacturers, and the online EPEAT Registry lists those products. Designed to help institutional purchasers, EPEAT is used by national governments (including the USA) and thousands of private-sector institutional purchasers worldwide as part of their sustainable procurement decisions. The GEC, which manages EPEAT and ensures its integrity, has launched the new EPEAT PV modules and Inverters product category in recognition of the tremendous growth of the solar sector.
“The EPEAT PV Modules and Inverters category provides those tasked with buying renewable energy the means to specify that the hardware used is truly sustainable,” says GEC CEO Nancy Gillis. “First Solar is leading the solar industry towards more sustainable practices by becoming the first PV module manufacturer to have its products included in the EPEAT Registry, giving its customers confidence that they are purchasing an environmentally leading product from a socially-responsible company,” she adds.
Series 6 was awarded an EPEAT Silver rating, certifying that it has exceeded the required stringent environmental and social criteria of a Bronze rating. “By launching at the Silver tier, First Solar has shown their commitment to sustainability,” says Gillis. “GEC calls upon the other PV module manufacturers to follow their lead.”
EPEAT addresses the full product life-cycle, including managing substances in the product, manufacturing energy and water use, product packaging, end-of-life recycling, and corporate responsibility. EPEAT also requires manufacturers to commit to continuous improvement in environmental and social responsibility, including labor and human rights, across their operations and supply chain. This helps to ensure that PV modules and inverters, and their components, are not produced using forced labor and that fair and safe labor practices are adhered to.
“With solar PV expected to be the fastest-growing renewable energy technology from now to 2050, the sector has a collective responsibility to ensure that today’s clean energy solutions are certifiably sustainable. However, the PV industry has historically lacked a comprehensive, credible and transparent standard to certify manufacturers’ environmental and sustainability claims,” says Andreas Wade, First Solar’s director, Global Sustainability. “The EPEAT ecolabel effectively addresses this gap, creating a stringent industry standard that will help purchasers evaluate the lifecycle impact of a PV module.”
Designed and developed at First Solar’s R&D centers in California and Ohio, the Series 6 PV module is claimed to set industry benchmarks for quality, durability, reliability, design and environmental performance. With a carbon footprint that is up to six times lower and a water footprint that is up to 24 times lower than crystalline silicon PV panels manufactured using conventional, energy-intensive production methods, Series 6 is said to deliver a superior environmental profile and the lowest-carbon solar available.