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San Francisco – December 10, 2015 – The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) today released its Sixth Annual 2015 Solar Scorecard at www.solarscorecard.com, which ranks manufacturers of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules according to a range of environmental, sustainability and social justice factors. This year’s respondents of PV companies more than doubled from last year, including new participation from LG, Jinko, Kyocera, AUO and WINAICO.
The 13 companies that responded to the 2015 Solar Scorecard represent just 35.8 percent of the total PV module market share, with the remainder of the information gathered from publicly available documentation.
“The number of companies committed to reporting environmental practices continues to fluctuate wildly from year to year,” said Sheila Davis, executive director of Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. “The inconsistent participation is largely due to bankruptcies, restructuring and new entries into the Solar PV manufacturing market. We need consistent industrywide sustainability practices and reporting procedures that consumers can expect from all solar companies.”
In November 2014, SVTC announced plans to expand its Scorecard into a standard that meets the criteria of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). With participation more than doubling this year, SVTC believes that interest and participation will continue to increase as the Solar Scorecard transitions into a formal accredited standard by 2017.
Key findings from this year’s solar scorecard and SVTC’s research throughout the last six years include:
“The SVTC Solar Scorecard requires PV module manufacturers to report on sustainability performance metrics, disclose environmental, health, and safety certifications and report other information,” said Associate Professor Dustin Mulvaney of San Jose State University, who helped SVTC interpret the scores. “These practices are increasingly commonplace in other electronics and semiconductor industries. The fact that company scores continue to increase is a sign that solar industry leaders are integrating sustainability reporting into operations.”]]>
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2014 was a very productive year for SVTC. We laid a solid foundation for two major initiatives that will keep us very busy in 2015 and beyond. I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on our latest projects—and also to encourage you to join us by making a generous year-end gift to SVTC.
First, we’ll be developing SVTC’s successful Solar Scorecard into a formal set of product standards for solar PV products. At the same time, we’ll move forward with the Solar Recycling Incubator, a model project to ensure the sustainability of off-grid solar products around the world.
Since the Solar Scorecard was launched five years ago, the solar PV industry has expanded six-fold, from just 6.4 GW of PV module production in 2009 to 38.7 GW in 2013. The Scorecard has had a significant impact on the industry and continues to drive positive change. Since 2010, 44.5% of the PV industry (based on 2013 market share) has participated in one or more SVTC Scorecard surveys. The Scorecard is a valuable resource for responsible consumers, and this year it was viewed more than 200 million times online.
Starting in 2015, SVTC will begin developing the Scorecard into a formal standard accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The standard will provide an important tool for U.S. and international regulatory agencies, and will also expand the Scorecard’s usefulness for large institutional purchasers.
Development of the ANSI standard is a rigorous two-year process that involves a wide range of stakeholders and will cost an estimated $250,000. Your support will be essential as we take the Scorecard to the next level!
Launched in 2014, SVTC’s Solar Recycling Incubator is a model project for sustainable solar PV use in Africa. By improving solar product design, distribution, and recycling, the project will help protect the environment and also address the root causes of poverty in rural agriculture communities.
Over the next 35 years, 1.8 billion babies will be born in Africa, doubling the continent’s population. In some countries, such as Malawi, more than 90 percent of the people lack access to grid electricity, relying instead on polluting fuels such as coal, kerosene, and wood. Small solar devices can help address this need, but because of short product life spans, they also have the potential to become a new wave of toxic e-waste.
In 2014 SVTC developed strong partnerships with communities, repair technicians, and recyclers in Malawi, and also with international scholars and solar companies. Our goal is to develop safer and more recyclable PV products, accessible repair manuals, and a recycling database. At the same time, we are partnering with a farming community in Malawi to pilot the use of solar devices in sustainable agriculture.
SVTC’s 30 years of research, advocacy, and organizing have resulted in landmark policies for e-waste recycling, toxic clean up, toxic materials reduction, worker protection, and community right-to-know. Your generous contributions have made this work possible, and we encourage your continued support. Together, we can ensure safe and sustainable technology for the next 30 years and beyond.
Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for the New Year!
Sheila Davis, Executive Director, SVTC
P.S. Please visit www.svtc.org to learn more about SVTC’s programs.
By: Sheila Davis, Executive Director, SVTC
The results are in!
2014 marks the fifth consecutive year since the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) began releasing its Annual Solar Scorecard. In case you aren’t familiar with it, the SVTC Solar Scorecard ranks manufacturers of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules according to a range of environmental, sustainability and social justice factors.
At SVTC we believe that the solar PV sector should be safe for the environment, workers and communities. By sharing environmental practices with the public, the goal is to keep the PV sector transparent in a time where industry standards that define what it means to be “green” are far and few between.
In its fifth year of requesting environmental information from solar PVs, seven companies representing 25.2 percent of the total PV module market share responded to the 2014 SVTC survey — a significant decline from the response rate of 51.1 percent in 2012. This is of concern because many companies who are offering cheap products and hiding their environmental footprints are generally being rewarded by the market, which is undeniably accelerating the race to the bottom. Generally speaking, this is ironic since the whole idea behind solar power is to keep the world “green,” and achieving this is hard to do when companies are not idealizing environmental standards while manufacturing their so-called green products.
Let’s dive deeper into the Scorecard results (which can be found in full here):
First off, we’d like to pass on special recognition to both SolarWorld and Yingli, who have stepped up to the challenge and responded to our SVTC survey every year since 2010. Their commitment to environmental stewardship has remained consistent despite significant disruptions in the solar industry.
Moving on to the solar PV environmental leaders for our 2014 Scorecard, Trina tops the results scoring 92/100, followed closely by SunPower (88), Yingli (81), SolarWorld (73) and REC (71). Additionally, Trina, SunPower, SolarWorld and REC all perform extensive chemical emissions disclosure and reporting conducted by a third party.
Beyond this, many of these same companies take the reins in innovation with the following leadership qualities:
On a concerning note, zero companies can provide documentation to verify that their supply chains do not contain conflict minerals based on the due diligence guidelines set by the OECD. However, 12 companies have started the process to look into this.
To support ongoing efforts to keep up reporting standards, SVTC has recently partnered with renewable energy and green procurement leaders, as well as the nonprofit Green Electronic Council (GEC), to expand the Scorecard into a standard that meets the criteria of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) — a certification, if you will. By creating environmental leadership standards that are endorsed by multiple stakeholder groups, the final goal will be to have PV standards that meet the qualifications for consideration on the EPEAT Registry.
At the end of the day, SVTC’s hope (through its Solar Scorecard) is for commercial, government or residential purchasers of PV modules to make a long-term environmental commitment by choosing those PV modules that keep high environmental manufacturing standards. SVTC hopes the solar industry will become an exemplarily green business model focused on environmental sustainability and workplace safety.]]>