26 July 2022
First Solar issues 2022 Sustainability Report showcasing progress on ESG metrics
Cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film photovoltaic (PV) module maker First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA has issued its 2022 Sustainability Report highlighting its continued environmental, social and governance (ESG) progress.
The only US-headquartered company among the world’s ten largest solar manufacturers, First Solar’s modules are claimed to have the lowest carbon and water footprint and fastest energy payback time of any commercially available PV technology today.
“By placing ‘Responsible Solar’ at the heart of our business and investing in innovation and scale, First Solar is an example of how solar can be competitive without compromising on principles and purpose,” says CEO Mark Widmar. “We have consistently demonstrated that the solar-at-any-cost approach, which turns a blind eye to human and environmental costs of PV manufacturing, does not have to be the norm and that Responsible Solar is now a competitive differentiator.”
Highlights in the 2022 Sustainability Report include:
- A 13% year-on-year reduction in greenhouse gas emissions intensity. The firm remains on track to achieve its science-based target of reducing its absolute scope 1 and scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions, from a 2008 baseline, by 34% by 2028 and net-zero emissions by 2050 in line with limiting global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
- An 8% year-on-year reduction in manufacturing energy intensity and a cumulative reduction in manufacturing energy intensity per watt by 65% since 2009. First Solar’s manufacturing energy intensity includes all processes, from the beginning of its manufacturing process to finished module. The company set a target to improve global energy efficiency per watt produced by 74% by 2028, from a 2009 baseline.
- A 32% year-on-year reduction in manufacturing water intensity and a 78% reduction since 2009. Water recycling initiatives saved more than 268 million liters of water in 2021. After surpassing a previous water intensity target seven years early, First Solar set a new target of an 87% reduction in water intensity per watt compared with its 2009 baseline.
- An 8% year-on-year reduction in manufacturing waste intensity and a 55% reduction since 2012.
- A 4% increase in women in management positions compared with 2020. First Solar’s board of directors is 33% diverse and the company was recognized as a ‘3+ company’ by 50/50 Women on Boards for having at least three women serve on its board.
Earlier this year, First Solar announced that its 2.7GWDC vertically integrated manufacturing complex in Ohio has achieved Platinum status in the Responsible Business Alliance’s (RBA) Validated Audit Process (VAP), providing further validation to customers that they are working with a responsible partner. Platinum is the highest possible rating awarded on completion of a full VAP, which is considered the leading standard for onsite compliance verification and effective, shareable social and environmental audits across industries.
First Solar’s Northwest Ohio footprint is the Western Hemisphere’s largest solar manufacturing complex. The firm is investing $680m in building a third factory that will expand the complex by an annual capacity of 3.3GW. The new facility is expected to be commissioned in first-half 2023 and, when fully operational, will scale the firm’s Ohio footprint to a total annual capacity of 6GW (making it the largest fully vertically integrated solar manufacturing complex outside China).
In addition to its Ohio manufacturing facilities, First Solar also operates factories in Vietnam and Malaysia, and is building a new 3.3GW factory in India that is expected to be commissioned in second-half 2023. With First Solar’s expansion in the USA and India and optimization of its existing fleet, the firm expects that its nameplate manufacturing capacity will double to 16GW in 2024.