First Solar and Qcells solar panels are greenest in industry after achieving EPEAT designation

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Two solar panel brands today achieved the Global Electronics Council’s (GEC) stringent sustainability criteria, making them EPEAT registered products. The Q.TRON and Q.PEAK DUO crystalline silicon module lines from Qcells and the Series 6 Plus and Series 7 TR1 cadmium-telluride thin-film panels from First Solar are the first in the industry to reach the EPEAT designation.

EPEAT is a globally recognized ecolabel that includes independent validation and allows for the easy identification of environmentally preferable products from socially responsible companies. EPEAT addresses the whole product life cycle, including managing substances in the product, manufacturing energy and water use, product packaging, end-of-life recycling, corporate responsibility, and human rights. Joining this registry helps customers make informed decisions and choose products that help them meet their own ESG goals.

Both Qcells’ and First Solar’s panel additions to the EPEAT registry activates the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) — the first time for solar panels — which, according to an EPA rule, requires the federal government to procure products that meet important sustainability requirements when three or more EPEAT certified products by two or more manufacturers in one category are available. In 2021, the Biden Administration announced plans to electrify federal buildings and fleets by 2050. EPEAT will now steer billions of dollars in federal government purchasing power toward sustainably made solar manufactured by leaders in the domestic solar industry.

“After over two years of striving to make more sustainable solar panels, we’re proud to have achieved this huge accomplishment,” said Kelly Weger, Senior Director of Sustainability at Qcells. “The EPEAT ecolabel will make it easy for customers who value transparency and sustainability to find our products and work with us. Beyond commercial and residential customers, this now means our USA-assembled and sustainably made solar products will help the federal government achieve its climate goals. Overall, customers large and small now have a resource that will help them hit their sustainability goals faster while supporting U.S. jobs.”

The First Solar panels are also the first to reach EPEAT Climate+ designation. EPEAT Climate+ makes EPEAT the only global ecolabel to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during the different stages of solar module production, and products receiving the designation must meet the ultra-low carbon threshold of ≤400 kg CO2e/kWp. EPEAT Climate+ helps purchasers quickly identify technology products designed and manufactured with climate change mitigation in mind, allowing them to reduce scope 3 emissions of solar installations.

“As we add yet another differentiating factor that separates our technology from the competition, we are reminded that not all solar is created equal and that embodied carbon remains a challenge for the solar industry,” said Samantha Sloan, VP of policy, sustainability and marketing, First Solar. “With EPEAT Climate+, our customers now benefit from a global standard that allows them to confidently procure solar modules that lower their scope 3 emissions and are responsibly made. We encourage other manufacturers to embrace this global validation standard and contribute to the effort to reinforce our industry’s license to operate.”


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