The Global Electronics Council (GEC), a non-profit organization founded to promote sustainable electronics, has added criteria within its EPEAT ecolabel system focused on decarbonizing the supply chain for solar panel production.
These criteria are the first by a global ecolabel to set thresholds on the embodied carbon in photovoltaics and will be a requirement for achieving the EPEAT ecolabel designation for PV modules.
“While renewable energy is essential in the transition to the green economy, we must also consider the underlying infrastructure’s contribution to climate change,” says Bob Mitchell, CEO of GEC. “The market needs a trusted methodology to evaluate the carbon emissions of solar panels during production in order to make informed purchasing decisions.”
Solar installations are designed to have a net zero impact in their generation of electricity; however, the embodied carbon in solar panels may vary greatly depending on the supply chain used to manufacture them.
“Reducing the embodied carbon in solar farm equipment can bring the emissions payback period for solar assets from one to three years, depending on local energy mix, to under one year in many locations, accelerating the positive impact that solar energy development has on climate change,” says Nastassja Hagan, Lightsource bp’s vice president, sustainability.
The EPEAT criteria focus on measuring and reducing what is known as Scope 3 carbon emissions or the carbon generated in the design, material sourcing and manufacture of these products.
GEC expects to launch its public registry of solar panels that meet the new criteria in late September. Solar panel manufacturers interested in registering their products against the new criteria, which includes an independent, third-party product review, should begin the process as soon as possible.