The Solar Scorecard is based on SVTC’s annual survey of photovoltaic (PV) module manufacturers, as well as on prior survey responses, interviews, news stories, and publicly available data. The goal of the Scorecard is to enhance transparency around environmental health, safety, and sustainability issues for communities, workers, and the environment.
SVTC started collecting data for the Solar Scorecard in 2009 when the solar industry produced just 6.4 GW of PV modules. In 2014, the PV industry produced 45.3 GW, more than seven times the 2009 total production1. Since 2010, 55.6% of the PV industry (based on 2014 market share) has participated in one or more SVTC survey, including eight of the top ten PV manufacturers, which produce over 50% of PV modules in 2014.
Thirteen companies representing 35.8% of the PV module market share responded to the 2015 SVTC survey. This included six of top ten PV module manufacturers. This is an increase from the 25.2 % in 2014. The Solar Scorecard saw an increase in participation by several large producers and name brand companies such as Jinko, Kyocera, AUO, WINAICO and LG. Annual survey participation rates continue to fluctuate between 7-15 respondents over six years due largely to the bankruptcies and/or restructuring throughout the industry.
The results compiled from SVTC’s 2015 survey and research include the following:
- Six PV manufacturers have written letters to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) seeking action on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for PV modules in the USA. This number has doubled from the 2014. Most PV modules sold in Europe are covered by a pre-funded Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme to ensure safe and responsible disposal. No PV modules in the USA come with EPR.
- Over the past four SVTC surveys, 15 companies have said they would support public policy for an EPR scheme for PV modules (Aleo, Avancis, Eurener, First Solar, REC, Solar World, Solon, SoloPower, SunPower, Suntech, SolarWorld, Trina, Up Solar, Jinko and Yingli). However, at least one company’s 2015 letter (Solarworld) openly expressed concern regarding SEIA’s ability to provide leadership in EPR policy development.
- Methods used by PV manufacturers to report the use of hazardous chemical to the public remains inconsistent. In 2015 only four PV manufacturers (Trina, AUO, Sharp and JA Solar) do extensive chemical emissions disclosure and reporting on their website. Sixteen companies (three more than in 2014) report one or more categories of emissions (hazardous waste, heavy metals, air pollution, ozone depleting substances, landfill disposal).
- Thirteen PV manufacturers post annual hazardous chemical reduction targets on their websites or in sustainability reports. This number has not increased since 2014.
- Thirteen companies manufacture PV modules with amounts of cadmium or lead below regulatory thresholds set by the European Union, the world’s most stringent standard (increase from 12 companies in 2014). This means that the maximum concentration found in any homogenous material that makes up these PV modules is less than 0.01% for cadmium and 0.10% or less for lead.
- A total of 32 companies include some information about PV recycling on their websites, in varying depth and detail. Most companies have logos or links to PV Cycle for European customers (an increase from 23 in 2014). The significant increase is due largely to the inclusion of solar PV the European mandatory recycling laws.
- 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. Seventeen companies are engaged in or have started the process of due diligence to determine if conflict minerals are present in their supply chains (an increase from 12 companies in 2014).
- There were no rainy scores in the biodiversity section as solar projects are operating under new regulatory guidance and collaborating with wildlife conservation organizations.