The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) has released its 2013 Solar Scorecard, according to which most of the solar sector's environmental practices remain hidden from the public.
The SVTC Solar Scorecard ranks manufacturers of PV modules according to a range of environmental, sustainability and social justice factors.
In its fourth year of requesting environmental information from solar companies, SVTC says only 10 companies representing 34.6% of the PV module market share responded to the 2013 SVTC survey, and more than 25% of the top 40 solar companies fail to make almost any environmental information publicly available on their websites.
Key findings from SVTC's research are as follows:
- Three of the top-40 PV manufacturers (REC, SolarWorld, Yingli) share with the public extensive chemical emissions disclosure and reporting.
- Twelve of the top-40 PV manufacturers post annual hazardous chemical reduction targets on their websites or in sustainability reports.
- The number of companies with fully funded extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes in the PV industry dropped from one to zero. First Solar, the only major company with a fully funded EPR program for the last three years, has eliminated its EPR program in most of its U.S.-based sales.
- Trina Solar (77/100), Yingli (75/100) and SunPower (69/100) earned overall top scores for 2013. SolarWorld and REC earned the highest scores for sharing information about their emissions with the public.
‘Just because a solar company is in the general industry of renewable energy and sustainability doesn't mean it's actually practicing those same goals,’ says SVTC Executive Director Sheila Davis. ‘We're finding that most companies are riding the coattails of a small group of environmental leaders. It's alarming how many solar companies fail to post environmental data on their website and also ignore SVTC's request for information. Hiding this information from the public puts the entire industry's 'green' reputation at risk.’
This year, the SVTC augmented its research methodology for the Solar Scorecard to include prior survey responses and additional sources, such as interviews, news stories, and publicly available data and information. The SVTC scored 40 companies representing approximately 82.8% of the PV industry market share.
SVTC estimates that the 14% drop in its survey response is due to bankruptcy of former participants and the declining market shares of major PV producers. However, more investors are expecting that standard business practices now include sharing environmental information.
To see the SVTC's 2013 Solar Scorecard, click here.