Energy and climate protection
Reducing emissions. Protecting resources.
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.
- Group-wide introduction of an energy management system and certification along ISO 50001 (more information can be found here )
- Definition of group-wide reduction goals until 2020
- Reduction of the cumulated energy consumption (primary, in MJeq/Wp) by 15% [2012: 13.5 MJ/Wp]
- Reduction of the group-wide energy consumption (in kWh/Wp) by 25% [2012: 0.631 kWh/Wp]
- Reduction of the group-wide greenhouse gas emissions (based on the Global Warming Potential (GWP), in kg CO2eq/Wp) by 15% [2012: 0.25 kg CO2eq/Wp]
- Reduction of the emission intensity of our products (based on the Global Warming Potential (GWP), in kg CO2eq/Wp) by 15% [2012: 0.8 kg CO2eq/Wp]
- Average CO2 emissions of all new passenger cars in the SolarWorld vehicle pool of 95 g CO2eq/km (2012: Average of all passenger cars 152 g CO2eq/km)
With a SolarWorld system, you can actively drive forward energy transition and 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.
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.
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.
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 2012, we calculated a shared total for Freiberg and the USA of 0.8 kgCO2eq/Wp (in 2011: 0.8 kgCO2eq/Wp for just the Freiberg production). In Freiberg, we achieved an 8 percent improvement. Values from the USA are available for the first time this year.
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 neccessary)
How high is the level of energy consumption at SolarWorld, and how much greenhouse gas does SolarWorld generate every year?
The energy consumed throughout the group comes from a combination of the primary sources natural gas, heating oil, diesel, and gasoline and the secondary sources electricity and local heating. The primary energy consumed for these energy sources totaled 3,944 (in 2011: 5,082) TJ.
Thanks to the volume of solar power modules sold in 2012, we were able to achieve an energy surplus of 11,133 GWh over a runtime of 30 years. Furthermore, we succeeded in saving around 8.7 (in 2011: 8.7 from the Freiberg production data alone) million tCO2eq. The costs related to environmental damage that were avoided as a result amount to around 607 (in 2011: 608 from the Freiberg production data alone) million €. The CO2 emissions avoided therefore exceed the CO2 emissions caused along the entire production chain by a factor of 19 (in 2011: a factor of 19 for the production data for Freiberg alone). Here, we should emphasize that the values for the Freiberg production improved by 8 percent compared to the previous year. Since we have no exact information about where or how our modules are installed, our calculations are based on a standardized installation (1,275 kWh/m²).