As the world's need for electricity continues to grow, so too does the ability to generate harmful emissions from the traditional fossil fuel sources currently utilized. Displacing, and eventually eliminating these emissions presents a daunting challenge for future generations. By developing and harnessing clean, renewable sources of electricity today, we can change the way the world is powered.
Solar energy offers the highest global potential for electricity generation among renewable energy sources1
for meeting this challenge, and is therefore an important technology for both, climate change mitigation, and the development of a low carbon economy.
The counter application depicted on the homepage, and other pages of the First Solar website, illustrates an important environmental benefit of First Solar module technology by providing cumulative carbon displacement information since the company began commercial production. The purpose is to communicate carbon displacement from solar deployment in the form of common equivalent measures, including homes powered, cars removed, and trees planted, demonstrating the positive environmental impacts of solar energy.
First Solar has prepared a more in-depth technical report that elaborates on the assumptions and methodology behind the worldwide averages supporting displaced CO2 emissions.
While energy security and climate change have been important drivers for renewable energy adoption, water security provides an additional driver. For example in the United States, thermoelectric power plants have recently accounted for over 40% of total freshwater withdrawals, even more than for agriculture. This energy-water nexus associated with traditional energy sources can be a potential concern, particularly in water-stressed regions. Because solar PV uses little to no water during operation, it provides a potential path forward for addressing the energy-water nexus.
The counter application depicted on the homepage, and other pages of the First Solar website, illustrates an important environmental benefit of First Solar module technology by providing cumulative water displacement in metric tons since the company began commercial production. The purpose is to communicate water displacement from solar deployment based on avoided operational water consumption by thermal power stations with cooling towers (1.33 m3/MWh; Vassolo and Döll, 2005).
First Solar has prepared a more in-depth technical report that elaborates on water displacement over the entire life cycle of PV electricity.
Carbon Disclosure Project
In 2012, First Solar participated in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) for the second year in a row as part of our ongoing commitment to environmental responsibility and transparency. First Solar received a Carbon Disclosure Score of 80 (max 100) and a Carbon Performance Band C rating; placing within the top quartile of all S&P 500 respondents. By the end of 2011, we reported that 5.3GW of PV solar modules produced by First Solar are being used to displace approximately 3.5 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year for their 25+ year product lifespan. In addition to providing a clean renewable energy product, First Solar continuously strives to reduce the carbon impacts resulting from our own operations and activities.
First Solar’s responses are publicly available on the Carbon Disclosure Project website.
1 Edenhofer, O., et al., 2011: Summary for Policy Makers. In IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation, Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, USA.
2 Assuming average world-wide irradiance and grid electricity emissions.