Any manufacturer involved in the renewable energy business should be taking note of the move by SunPower to report its carbon footprint from operations. As part of the Carbon Disclosure Project, an independent not-for-profit organization, SunPower said that in 2009, its global operations produced greenhouse gas emissions of 328 metric tons of CO2 equivalent per megawatt of solar cells produced. Due to higher cell efficiencies this was approximately 10% down on the previous year.
“SunPower’s investment in research and development to improve our high-efficiency solar panel and systems technology has substantially reduced our carbon intensity since we began manufacturing in 2004,” said SunPower CEO Tom Werner. “Beyond our internal carbon footprint reductions, our solar rooftop systems and power plants operate without generating greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore our customers’ use of SunPower systems avoids many times the amount of greenhouse gases generated in their own manufacturing and delivery operations.
SunPower said that it had undertaken 23 measures to further reduce carbon emission intensity, including steps to improve lighting, air conditioning and equipment efficiencies at its production plants.
In years to come the carbon footprint of a solar module could be as important as its wattage.