At First Solar, we have long understood that we have a responsibility towards our planet, our communities, and our customers. This responsibility drives our sense of purpose – “the why” that inspires every one of our thousands of employees worldwide who have committed themselves to our journey to lead the world’s sustainable energy future.
Since the beginning, we have placed sustainability at the heart of everything we do, focused not on meeting industry standards, but exceeding them and setting new ones. This is why we have a long history of establishing benchmarks in recycling, supply chain transparency, the carbon and water footprint of our technology, and health and safety.
We’re driven not by awards or recognition but by a desire to make better solar. Solar that doesn’t pay lip service to sustainability but embodies it. Solar that considers the social and environmental impacts, and works hard to make people’s lives healthier. Solar that has no tolerance for the use of forced labor either in its manufacturing or its supply chain. Solar that meaningfully supports the fight against climate change.
We call it Responsible Solar.
And each day, thousands of our employees make the most of their day so businesses and communities around the world can make the most of the lowest carbon solar electricity generated by responsibly-manufactured solar technology.
Thank you for being part of our journey.
Chief Executive Officer
Labor and Human Rights
First Solar is committed to respecting and protecting human rights, supporting fair labor practices and prohibiting forced labor, child labor, human trafficking and slavery across our supply chain. First Solar’s Labor and Human Rights policy establishes the following minimum requirements for all associates, officers, directors, contractors and business partners of the company:
- Freely-chosen employment
- Child labor prohibition
- Humane treatment
- Fair working hours, wages and benefits
- Freedom of association
- No retaliation
- Access to an anonymous and confidential third-party operated Ethics Hotline
- Internal mitigation
First Solar has long placed sustainability at the heart of its business, consistently demonstrating leadership driven by innovation and a desire to deliver better, responsible solar. As a result, our modules offers unparalleled eco-efficiencies, with the lowest carbon and water footprints, and fastest energy payback time of any solar technology available today.
All PV Technologies Are Not Created Equal
Due to our resource-efficient manufacturing process, First Solar modules have a carbon footprint that is up to 2.5 times lower, a water footprint that is up to three times lower and an energy payback time that is up to two times faster than conventional crystalline silicon solar panels manufactured in locations with carbon intensive grids.
A report by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) concluded commercial and utility-scale PV systems using CdTe PV are the best available technology from an environmental and life cycle cost point of view.
In addition to manufacturing PV modules with the lowest environmental impact in the industry, we are committed to reducing our operational impacts. All First Solar manufacturing sites are certified to globally recognized standards: ISO 14001 for Environmental Management, ISO 9001 for Quality Management, and ISO 45001 for Occupational Health and Safety.
Since 2009, we successfully reduced our greenhouse gas emissions, energy, water, waste, and carbon intensity per watt produced by implementing resource conservation and low carbon projects at our facilities and driving improvements in module efficiency, manufacturing throughput and capacity utilization.
In 2020, we joined RE100 and committed to powering our global operations with 100% renewable energy by 2028 with an interim goal of transitioning our facilities in the United States to carbon-free electricity by 2026.
We are proud that our Series 6 and Series 6 Plus modules are the world’s first PV products to be included in the EPEAT register for sustainable electronics. This globally recognized and independently verified ecolabel gives customers confidence that they are purchasing an environmentally leading product from a socially responsible company. Our annual EPEAT disclosure report is available online.
At First Solar, we believe that in order for solar energy solutions to be truly sustainable, they should be responsibly managed at end of life. First Solar has a long-standing leadership position in PV recycling with over a decade of experience in operating high-value PV recycling facilities on a global and industrial scale.
Our high-value PV recycling process is powering a circular economy by recovering more than 90% of the semiconductor material for reuse in new First Solar modules and 90% of the glass for use in new glass container products. In Malaysia, the recovered laminate material is finding new life in rubber products.
Diversity and Inclusion
At First Solar, inclusion, diversity and belonging is more than a program or an initiative, it is a transformation. We recognize that diversity and inclusion (D&I) is a driving force in the success of our company and believe in creating an environment where different voices are encouraged, heard and valued including, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, military status, generation, abilities, perspectives, backgrounds and personalities.
Over the past year, we’ve increased the gender, racial and ethnic diversity of our Board of Directors. Today, each Board committee has at least one diverse representative. First Solar’s Board of Directors is 33% diverse, with 25% of seats occupied by women and 17% occupied by ethnic or racially diverse Directors. We are proud to be recognized as a “3+ company” by 50/50 Women on Boards for having at least three women serve on our Board. We have also added gender, racial and multicultural diversity into our Executive Leadership team. We are committed to including one or more qualified diverse candidate in each search process for new Board members and new members of the Executive Leadership Team. A diverse Board and Executive Leadership Team sets the tone from the top, helping the company drive diversity and inclusion throughout our organization.
We strive to hire outstanding, qualified talent globally to further our mission and proactively seek diverse candidates by listing job postings on diversity and veteran-focused recruitment sites. Every external candidate search includes diverse individuals in the selection pool. In addition, we monitor ethnicity and gender diversity on an annual basis through our Affirmative Action Policy (AAP) and reports, and take action as appropriate. We review pay on a regular cadence to check for internal and external equity including minimum wage and living wage assessments across our global operations.
We continue to establish global and regional diversity networks and affinity groups consistent with First Solar’s culture and philosophy such as the Global Women’s Network (GLOW), launched in 2019, and our Black and African American Network, launched in 2020. Sponsored by our CEO and supported by a quarterly Executive Advisory Group, these Networks aim to attract talent, develop future leaders through mentoring, sponsorship, networking, and a collaborative learning culture and enrich our dialogue across the business, forging external partnerships that bring new perspectives.
First Solar is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE), and we prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, veteran status, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity
Transparency and Reporting
As part of our commitment to transparency, First Solar has been publicly reporting on the company’s sustainability performance for nearly a decade. We have received recognition of our sustainability disclosures from leading ESG rating agencies and indices.
In 2021, First Solar received an AA (leader) rating from MSCI ESG, Prime rating from ISS ESG, and Low risk rating from Sustainalytics.