Sustainability in Practice: Measuring, Communicating, and Reducing First Solar’s Carbon Footprint
Posted 25 January 2013 9:47 PM by Lettemieke Mulder
First Solar’s mission, business, and strategy focus on delivering clean and affordable electricity. As a leading renewable energy company, First Solar offers a significant response to climate change by providing power solutions that produce electricity with no air emissions, waste production, and minimal water use.
First Solar is helping to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by offering an economically viable alternative to fossil fuels. With over 6 GW installed worldwide, First Solar has displaced around 4 million tons of CO2e emissions, the equivalent of powering approximately 3 million homes per year, based on world averages. For First Solar, providing a clean energy solution is not enough; we also strive to manage the carbon impacts resulting from our own operations and activities.
In 2012, First Solar set a goal to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity 35 percent by 2016, from a base year of 2008. The key driver in reducing First Solar’s GHG emissions intensity is improving module efficiency, which decreases our energy pay-back time, carbon footprint, and energy consumption per watt produced.
First Solar’s Energy Conservation Team is also implementing a number of energy saving initiatives at our largest factory in Malaysia. “Since 2010, and the implementation of an energy reduction plan, we’ve achieved accumulated savings of more than $1.8 Million or 11,000 Tons of CO2equivalent,” explains Ahmad Faiz Ab Hamid, Director of Site Services at First Solar’s Kulim factory. “The savings came from various activities, ranging from large-scale saving measures such as air conditioning, cooling systems, and compressed air systems; to small scale savings such as LED lighting and solar water heaters.”
First Solar's Kulim Factory
In early 2012, the factory in Kulim set an ambitious target to reduce energy consumption by 10 percent from 2011 levels, which will amount to $4 Million (24,000 tons of CO2 equivalent) savings. The Energy Conservation team is installing an online power monitoring system which will enable them to track energy consumption more accurately and identify new opportunities for further savings.
First Solar also recognizes the importance of being transparent to external stakeholders, and openly reports on its environmental, social, and economic progress. In 2012, First Solar – for the second year in a row – took part in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), an independent not-for-profit organization that reports on greenhouse gas emissions of companies around the world. CDP scores companies each year on the quality of disclosure and on performance, and makes company responses available via the CDP website for investors and other interested stakeholders. We were recognized for our transparency shown by a position in the top quartile of S&P 500 respondents for Carbon Disclosure.
First Solar strives to maintain its environmental leadership by voluntarily disclosing its sustainability performance and continuously improving the environmental benefits of its products. First Solar’s greenhouse gas reduction goal is simultaneously driving down emissions and the cost of solar electricity, helping the company fulfill its mission to provide clean and affordable solar electricity.