Environmental stewardship

Global sustainability from our factories to our suppliers

Energy & climate | Waste & air | Water conservation | Recycling

SolarWorld stands for sustainability

Our commitment to sustainability begins on the inside. It starts with how we manufacture our products, choose our materials and treat our employees, then it extends outward to the communities we serve. Our commitment encompasses both economic and social sustainability and includes our factories, suppliers and employees. It is part of our identity and clearly differentiates SolarWorld from the rest of the solar manufacturing industry.

Our corporate culture encourages employees to live and work sustainably. We provide opportunities for employees to get involved in local recycling programs, reduce their workday commutes and support green initiatives in their communities.

Our sustainability efforts focus on three primary areas: energy conservation and climate protection, waste and air pollution reduction, and water conservation.

The details of our sustainability performance are part of SolarWorld’s Annual Group Report and describe how the sustainability principle is integrated into SolarWorld's corporate strategy.

Download the group report 


Green Brand
The Green Brand certificate is presented exclusively to brands with a proven track record of environmentally sustainable actions both inside and outside the company.


Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition
SolarWorld has the highest all-time score and currently ranks as the #2 greenest solar manufacturer.


National Green Building Standard
SolarWorld modules are the only solar panels certified by the National Green Building Standard (NGBS).

SolarWorld's Pillars of Conservation

Energy conservation and climate protection

Reducing emissions. Protecting resources.

The details of our sustainability performance are part of SolarWorld’s Annual Group Report and describe how the sustainability principle is integrated into SolarWorld's corporate strategy.

With a SolarWorld system, you can actively participate in the planet’s transition to clean energy and make your own personal contribution to climate protection.

It is possible to produce more power with solar panels than from coal or gas.

2020 Energy & Climate Goals
Reduce accumulated energy consumption by 15%
Reduce Group-wide energy consumption by 25%
Reduce Group-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 15%
Reduce emission intensity of our products by 15%

Solar power generation supplies far more energy than is needed for production

  • If coal were used exclusively, 106,583 kWh of energy would be needed to generate 1,000 kWh per year – across a time period of 30 years. 24,806 kg CO2eq would be emitted as a result.
  • Gas performs slightly better: about half of the energy would be needed and 8,355 kg CO2eq would be released.
  • In contrast, solar power generation supplies far more energy than is needed for production: only 3,694 kWh is necessary to generate a total of 30,000 kWh. Emissions during production are also minimal. The few emissions resulting from the production process are more than compensated for over the life of the system.

Waste and air-pollution reduction

Reduce pollution. Optimize the use of resources.

With its sustainability strategy, SolarWorld pays particular attention to its production of waste and pollutants. With the aid of the latest technology and thanks to ongoing production process optimization, SolarWorld not only continually reduces waste volume but also keeps environmental pollution as low as possible.

2020 Waste Reduction Goal
Reduce waste volume by 10%

SolarWorld keeps its emissions of air pollutants to an absolute minimum. Emissions of the substances listed below are always below the levels permitted by law.

SolarWorld keeps its emissions of air pollutants to an absolute minimum. Emissions of the substances listed below are always below those permitted by law.

Water conservation

Minimize consumption. Reduce pollution.

Minimizing water consumption and protecting water quality are particularly important to SolarWorld. We are aware of the scarcity of the resource and, therefore, use it efficiently and sustainably. We constantly reduce our water consumption and work to limit and reduce the water pollution we cause.

2020 Water Conservation Goals
Reduce water consumption by 10%
Reduce waste water by 10%

To achieve this, SolarWorld treats and recirculates much of the water used in production, with the goal of steadily increasing the percentage of recycled water used in its manufacturing operations.

SolarWorld water reduction and usage plan and goals

Recycling 

Background

SolarWorld solar panel recycling processSolarWorld has committed to the voluntary acceptance of old modules in Germany in order to reflect the importance of environmental protection and in particular the proper disposal of old modules. Since 2013, this voluntary take-back program has been expanded to all countries in the European Union. We also have partner companies in the U.S. to carry out recycling. With the implementation of WEEE2 in the EU member states, the right of return changes fundamentally for consumers.

Process

Going forward, old modules will be brought by owners to municipal waste disposal centers or, for large quantities, picked up at the source location. Requests for pickup and disposal pass through a central point called National Registers. They use a lottery system based on market share to inform a manufacturer, which is then responsible for the proper disposal of the old modules.

According to information from the disposal industry, significantly reduced prices for the recycling of old modules can be expected in the future. This depends primarily on settled legislation and the development of the required disposal technology at certified waste management companies. Certified waste management companies are currently able to recycle old modules in such a way that almost all of the reusable material can be fed into production processes as secondary raw materials.

EU directive and WEEE

The EU directive WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) regulates the proper recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment and its financing by manufacturers and distributors at the European level. This law for the disposal of electronic waste, which in the future also defines discarded solar modules as electronic waste, has been revised at the European Level (WEEE2). At the time of implementation, a free return system for solar modules will be created in all European Union countries. Manufacturers and distributors will then share responsibility for accepting and properly disposing of returned solar modules. Activities to implement WEEE2 began in January 2014 and some countries have already ratified WEEE2 into national law. Originally, the European Union required the implementation of WEEE2 into national law by February 2014. The Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act took effect in Germany on October 24, 2015. This now also applies to modules, which must be reported to the EAR Foundation (German national register for waste electrical and electronic equipment) within a transitional period of 3 months.