Off-Grid Solar Scorecard

Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh, is excited to announce the Off-Grid Solar Scorecard. This innovative tool introduces ground-breaking, sustainable, and circular design principles into the global off-grid solar industry.

We believe that a sustainable solar futures in Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia will depend upon the design and manufacture of solar powered products that can be repaired and re-used, re-cycled or up-cycled.

Solar photo voltaic is proving enormously important in expanding access to sustainable energy across the Global South. An estimated 44.2 million pico-solar devices (solar lanterns and home systems of 10 watts or less) were sold in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia between 2011 and 2015, according to the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association.

The scorecard was created to encourage manufacturers to take leadership in developing innovative designs that reduce waste, as well as ensure that the packaging materials are reusable, recyclable and/or biodegradable. The scorecard also serves as an online platform that promotes principles of sustainable and circular design in the off-grid solar industry and collects data about design. The platform will allow users and academics to contribute information, as well as be  an open-source in technology and design for designers and developers.

Perhaps the solar scorecard’s greatest contribution is that it is a decision-making tool that offers customers, community members, and designers opportunities to evaluate their purchase based on sustainability and quality.

The grading system is based upon Design for Environment (DfE) and Design for Disassembly principles.  These principles were put forth by William McDonough and Michael Braungart and further developed by businesses, academics and designers over the years.

Structure of the Scorecard

The Scorecard is divided into three sections based on: 1) Service and Spare Parts, 2) Repairability, and 3) Recyclability. Through a process of extensive research and inquiry, we’ve determined these three things to be the most important aspects of design for Sub Saharan African and Asian markets.

  1. Service and Spare parts
    It is critical for customers in remote areas to have access to customer support services, and warranties. These basic services extend the products life, provide positive customer experiences and prevent waste.
  2. Repairability
    We believe that a good solar device is one that has been designed so that it can be easily repaired or reused. The ability to repair and reuse a solar device extends its lifespan, and ensures that those who cannot afford to purchase new or replacement devices can continue to use them.
  3. Recyclability
    Designing for sustainability encourages designers and manufacturers to consider the ultimate destiny of products during the design phase. This means selecting materials (such as glass, metals, plastics and other materials) that can be easily recovered through manual or mechanical dismantling and profitably sold for use in new products of equal or better value or disposed of with minimal environmental impact.

Donate to SVTC

Your donation will help fund important Off-Grid Solar Scorecard projects.