Minimal carbon footprint from thin film solar cell production
A new study commissioned by solar energy technology company, Midsummer, has shown that the company’s proprietary flexible CIGS thin film solar module manufacturing process is more environmentally friendly than other solar module production processes such as silicon modules.
The recent study by Swerea IVF, a Swedish industrial research institute, has shown conclusively that Midsummer’s flexible thin film solar cells have much lower CO2 emission equivalents than almost all other renewable energy sources. Compared with the production of silicon solar modules, Midsummer’s rapid sputtering production process for thin film solar modules can result in a global warming potential (GWP) of merely 1/10 of the silicon modules.
Solar energy’s carbon footprint increasingly important
“As solar energy installations spread globally, there will be an increased focus on its carbon footprint and energy payback,” said Sven Lindström, CEO, Midsummer. “To manufacture energy demanding silicon panels, glass and aluminium frames with dirty coal power is not environmentally friendly. PV suppliers will be increasingly judged on the climate effect of their production processes. Here, Midsummer has a clear advantage with its extremely small carbon footprint. Our manufacturing process is very energy efficient and we don’t use silicon, glass or frames.”
Another reason for the low carbon footprint is the extremely thin light absorbing CIGS layer. Midsummer uses less than 1um (one micrometre, 0.001mm) of CIGS materials in its production process and this enables not only a fast production process, but also low energy consumption.
The objective of Swerea IVF’s Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study was to understand the environmental impact of Midsummer’s production method for flexible CIGS solar module in a lifecycle perspective. The results showed much lower CO2 emissions compared not only with similar modules made of silicon, but also with other thin film technologies.
Midsummer´s flexible CIGS solar modules do not consist of any glass or aluminium materials, reducing material consumption significantly.
The study has been reviewed and approved by a Swedish independent third-party institute Miljögiraff AB.