First Solar is focused on providing value-driven energy solutions that protect and enhance the environment. On a life cycle basis, First Solar systems have the smallest carbon footprint and fastest energy payback time—the time a system must operate to recover the energy that was required to produce it—of any other photovoltaic (PV) technology.
Carbon Footprint: A Fraction of Conventional Sources
Environmental Attributes of CdTe Technology
The semiconductor material used by First Solar enables the quick expansion of solar PV by producing high volume, affordable solar modules. With the smallest carbon footprint and fastest energy payback time of any PV technology on the market, First Solar combines the economic benefit of low-cost with superior environmental performance to provide truly sustainable energy solutions. When in operation, First Solar modules generate electricity with no air emissions, no waste production, and no water use.
Research from the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory concluded:
Large-scale use of CdTe PV modules does not present any risks to health and the environment, and recycling the modules at the end of their useful life completely resolves any environmental concerns. During their operation, these modules do not produce any pollutants, and furthermore, by displacing fossil fuels, they offer great environmental benefits. CdTe PV modules appear to be more environmentally friendly than all other current uses of Cd.*
* Source: "RENEWABLE & SUSTAINABLE ENERGY REVIEWS", Vol 8, 2004, pp 303–334, V M Fthenakis, "Life Cycle Impact Analysis of Cadmium in CdTe PV Production", with permission from Elsevier.
Energy Payback Time
First Solar provides superior environmental benefits while ensuring the health and safety of our associates, customers, and the communities in which we operate. We accomplish this by:
- Providing a cost-effective solar energy solution that displaces conventional fossil fuel technologies
- Practicing the environmental philosophies of extended producer responsibility and product life cycle management, which take into account the environmental impact of our products from raw material sourcing to recycling
- Striving for continuous improvement in our environmental, health, and safety management systems, and in the environmental quality of our products, processes, and services
Product Life Cycle Management
First Solar has integrated environmental responsibility into every aspect of the product life cycle, from raw material sourcing through end-of-life recycling.
Explore the major steps in the First Solar product life cycle below: