Smallest carbon footprint of all PV technologies
First Solar modules represent a clean source of renewable energy, significantly reducing harmful air emissions when used in place of traditional energy generation technologies.
Independent studies and reports have confirmed First Solar PV modules are safe to people, animal life, and the environment during normal use, and foreseeable accidents.
Facts and Figures
- Based on life cycle analyses, PV solar modules could represent an 89% reduction in harmful air emissions if used to displace conventional energy generation technologies.
- First Solar modules generate electricity with no air emissions, no waste production, and no water use.
- Recent acute toxicity studies indicate that CdTe is less toxic than cadmium. Under non-routine circumstances such as module breakage and fire, CdTe’s chemical properties (low vapor pressure, high boiling and melting points, low solubility) limit its toxicity, mobility and bioavailability. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) no longer classifies CdTe as harmful if ingested nor harmful in contact with skin.
- In 2009, an in-depth assessment of the environmental, health and safety aspects of First Solar's CdTe PV systems and manufacturing operations was carried out under the authority of the French Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea. It concluded that, "During standard operation of CdTe PV systems, there are no cadmium emissions - to air, to water, or to soil. In the exceptional case of accidental fires or broken panels, scientific studies show that cadmium emissions remain negligible. Accordingly, large-scale deployment of CdTe PV can be considered safe to human health and the environment."
- A 2008 Environmental Science and Technology study showed that First Solar PV systems have the fastest energy payback time of all existing solar technologies.
- A peer review of major public studies on the environmental profile of CdTe PV organized by the European Commission Joint Research Center and moderated by the German ministry of the environment (BMU) in August 2005 concluded, "...CdTe used in PV is in an environmentally stable form that does not leak into the environment during normal use or foreseeable accidents, and therefore can be considered the environmental[ly] safest current use of cadmium."
- First Solar PV Modules at end of life are classified as "waste for recovery" and non-hazardous in accordance with the German Waste Code, European Waste Legislation and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.
Learn more about the First Solar Series 3 PV module »