On December 7, for the second year in a row, the solar industry has come together in Brussels for the Sustainable Solar Europe summit. The summit was opened by the EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, the EU Head of Cabinet Stefano Grassi, and Secretary General of the European Environmental Bureau, Patrick ten Brink.
The speakers underlined the EU’s role in supporting solar energy as the essential pillar of the energy system on the path towards sustainability.
One highlight of this year’s conference was the presentation of ESG (Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance) standards for the solar industry, which has been developed by the Solar Stewardship Initiative (SSI). The SSI is a program for securing the solar value chain and was launched by the European solar association, SolarPower Europe.
Along with the Supply Chain Traceability Standard, these two sets of rules provide a foundation for the independent verification and certification of sustainable solar companies. Large solar manufacturers such as Jinko Solar, Hanwha Q Cells and Trina Solar, and large buyers such as Baywa r.e., ENGIE and Statkraft have joined the initiative.
How can solar products be made more sustainable? That’s what the session on Ecolabel and Ecodesign was all about. The Ecolabel informs consumers and buyers about the energy efficiency of a product. Ecodesign aims to improve the recyclability of products. Recycling and reuse was a hot topic in Brussels. For example, there was a discussion on how to automate the inspection of modules for second use in order to make second-life products competitive with new (very cheap) modules.
But before dealing with the finished product or how to reuse it, the focus must lie on the sustainability of raw and production materials: One session focused on how PPAs can provide green electricity to supplier industries such as the glass and aluminum industry to further reduce the carbon footprint of PV modules.
During the conference, the Spanish company Iberdrola was awarded SolarPower Europe’s Sustainability Award for its self-supply project for an energy community in Cedillo, Spain.
Sustainable Solar Europe is a joint event by SolarPower Europe and Intersolar Europe. Be part of our next conference, the Solar Quality Summit Europe about quality management in solar energy, which will take place in Barcelona from January 23–24, 2024.