Energy and climate protection
At SolarWorld, we make our greatest contribution to environmental sustainability by increasing energy efficiency, which in turn aides climate protection. Solar power generation can replace other sources in the energy mix, thereby contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and conservation of fossil resources.
- Reduction of the group-wide energy consumption (in kWh/Wp) by 25% [2012: 0.63 kWh/Wp]
- Reduction of the cumulated energy consumption (primary, in MJeq/Wp) by 25% [2012: 9.93 MJeq/Wp]
- Reduction of the group-wide greenhouse gas emissions (in kgCO2eq/Wp) by 35% [2012: 0.45 kgCO2eq/Wp]
- Reduction of the Global Warming Potential of our products (in kgCO2eq/Wp) by 25% [2012: 1.33 kgCO2eq/Wp]
- Average CO2 emissions of all new passenger cars in the SolarWorld vehicle pool of 95 gCO2eq/km (2012: Average of all passenger cars 152 gCO2eq/km)
With a SolarWorld system, you can actively drive forward energy transition
make your own personal contribution to climate protection
Yes, it is possible! The differences between power generation based on coal, gas and solar can be clearly seen in the diagram below.
As of 2012
If coal were used exclusively, 106,583 kWh of energy would be needed to generate 1,000 kWh per year – across a time period of 30 years. 24,806 kg CO2eq would be emitted as a result.
Gas performs slightly better: only around half of the energy would be needed and 8,355 kg CO2eq would be released.
In contrast, solar power generation supplies far more energy than is needed for production: only 3,694 kWh is necessary to generate a total of 30,000 kWh. Emissions during production are also minimal. The few emissions resulting from the production process are more than compensated for over the life of the system.
How long does it take until you get back the energy that was invested in producing a SolarWorld module? Can I protect the climate in this way?
On average, it takes around 1 year until the energy used for a module is recaptured. This is the energy pay back time. Accordingly, the CO2 pay back time refers to the time it takes to compensate for the greenhouse gases that were emitted during manufacturing. This varies greatly depending on the site of the system.
Different factors influence the pay back times, which is why it is still difficult to compare the data provided by different manufacturers. For example, we include more than just the energy consumed directly by production in our calculations. Instead, we conduct a life cycle analysis.
On this basis, we calculate the following energy and CO2 pay back times per region for modules from Freiberg which are installed in a roof with a southerly orientation and an optimum inclination at an average module lifespan of 30 years:
The assumption of the module lifetime is based on "Methodology Guidelines on Life Cycle Assessment of Photovoltaic Electricity", IEA PVPS Task 12, Subtask 20, LCA, Report IEA-PVPS T12 – 01:2009, October 2009. The energy payback time is calculated using country-specific energy mix data (Ecoinvent database). The CO2 payback time is calculated using the current calculation tools of the GHG Protocol.
We use our life cycle analysis to determine how much cumulative primary energy per watt peak we use for the entire manufacturing process. In other words, we take energy consumption in the preliminary stages of the value chain into account, creating transparency across the board.
How much greenhouse gas is created during the production of a SolarWorld module?
We also use the life cycle analysis to calculate the emission intensity of our products (greenhouse gas emissions per production unit, CO2eq/Wp). We include emissions from the entire production process, including preliminary stages and input factors in the analysis. In 2016, we calculated a shared total of 0.7 (in 2015: 0.7) kgCO2eq/Wp.
Where can I find more information about climate protection at SolarWorld?
Since 2005, SolarWorld has been reporting to the Carbon Disclosure Project, a non-profit organization the aim of which is to make global climate damage through greenhouse gas emissions more transparent. Each year, the CDP asks public companies around the world to report on their climate-relevant corporate data, strategies and specific climate protection measures. The CDP makes this data available to the capital markets and the general public. The aim of publishing the data is to create greater transparency regarding harmful greenhouse gas emissions – especially for capital investors. SolarWorld has been involved in the initiative in Germany since it was established in 2005.
The annual report of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Germany showcased SolarWorld AG as a "sector leader" in renewable energies in 2011 due to our transparent and detailed reporting.
We have made SolarWorld's current data from the CDP available here: Programme Response CDP SolarWorld
This data is also available on the official website of the Carbon Disclosure Project:
Carbon Disclosure Project (registration necessary)
How high is the level of energy consumption at SolarWorld, and how much greenhouse gas does SolarWorld generate every year?
The group-wide energy consumption is fed from the so-called primary sources (gas, oil, diesel, gasoline) and the secondary sources (electricity, local heat). The primary energy consumed for these energy sources totaled 4,666 (2015: 4,428) TJ.
With the amount of solar power modules sold in 2016, an energy surplus of 50,261 (2015: 43,548) GWh can be achieved during a lifespan of 30 years. Some 25.20 (2015: 21.81) million tCO2eq can be saved as a result. The costs for environmental damage avoided total around € 2,093 (2015: 1,813) million. The CO2 emissions avoided exceed the CO2 emissions caused along the entire production chain by a factor of 27 (2015: factor of 27). Since we have no exact information about how and where our modules are installed, our calculations are based on a standardized installation in Germany (1,275 kWh/m²). When estimating the avoided costs of environmental damage, we use the best-practice approach of 80 euros per ton of CO2 as recommended by the German Federal Environmental Agency.