Sustainable Energy Solutions Through Product Life Cycle Management

Sinha, Parikhit (Ricky)
(First Solar, Tempe, AZ)

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At least 89% of the emissions associated with electricity generation could be prevented if electricity from photovoltaics (PV) displaces electricity from the grid. (Fthenakis, et al., 2008). The development and implementation of such renewable energy technologies are critical to helping achieve a low-carbon economy. However, to ensure the long-term sustainability of the solar industry, it is critical that environmental impacts be addressed at all stages of the product’s life cycle – from raw material sourcing, manufacturing, installation, operation and end-of-life disposal and recycling. This presentation will provide insight and lessons learned from First Solar’s life cycle management approach and it’s leading-edge efforts to implement a comprehensive environmental plan. Given the significant growth of the CdTe PV technology and its rapid deployment in the field it is critical that environmental impact data continue to be collected, analyzed, made public, and updated. In this presentation First Solar will provide an overview of its experiences and best practices in developing large-scale PV projects, including detailing the benefits and impacts of utility-scale PV projects on a life cycle basis. By the end of 2010, a total of more than 30GW of PV capacity will have been installed world-wide, and what happens to these products at the end of their useful life needs to be addressed. With a commitment to extended producer responsibility, First Solar, a leading manufacturer and developer of large scale projects, has implemented a comprehensive pre-funded module collection and recycling program. This presentation will provide details on how the overall program is designed to be convenient, unconditional, and free. First Solar will also share updated information on the recycling technology it has developed and implemented on a commercial scale ensuring that substantially all module components (by mass) are recovered for reuse in new solar modules or new glass products. By offering a collection and recycling program, the largest CdTe PV manufacturer is proving today that it is possible to manage waste concerns for the future while creating truly sustainable energy solutions today.

Back to SESHA 33rd Annual Symposium/SIA IHTESH Joint Meeting (2011)



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