Since 2015, we have been following an ambitious roadmap to enhance sustainable development and responsible production across the solar supply chain. The main achieved milestones are highlighted in our Roadmap. The launch of the Solar Stewardship Initiative (SSI) in 2022 is an important step along this journey, providing a critical platform from which the next stage of our work can flourish. 2023 will herald the publication of our Code, the completion of our Pilot Programme to test the Code, and the finalisation of our Assurance System to ensure continued accountability as the Code is rolled out across our participating organisations.
Discover our journey, from foundation in 2015 to the launch of the Solar Stewardship Initiative in October 2022, and our roadmap for developments up until December 2025.
By adopting our Code, companies in the solar value chain will be able to clearly demonstrate their commitment to promoting sustainability best practices.
The SSI Assurance System will launch by Q3 2023, enabling independent and professionally qualified third-party assessors to verify participating companies’ conformance against the SSI Code.
Our Pilot Programme mapped existing data gaps in the European solar supply chain to ensure the SSI Code and assurance system were practical before their full rollout in 2023.
Wider Sustainability Work
The SSI is complemented by wider industry work on supply chain resilience and sustainability.
Re-shoring European PV Manufacturing
With the rapid, global growth of solar, the industry is working to diversify, and therefore strengthen, global supply chains. The IEA Special Report on Solar PV Global Supply Chains outlines the critical need to enhance solar supply chains in order to ensure a secure transition to net zero emissions.
In February 2021 SolarPower Europe and EIT InnoEnergy co-founded the European Solar Initiative industry (ESI) platform to redevelop European domestic manufacturing – aiming at a minimum of 20 GW domestic manufacturing by 2025. You can follow the development of the European solar value chain via SolarPower Europe’s interactive Solar PV Manufacturing map.
Building on the work of ESI, the European Commission will launch of the landmark EU Solar PV Initiative in late 2022, as part of the EU Solar Strategy.
Developing Solar PV Circularity
Responsible supply chains are circular supply chains, fortunately 90% of the weight of a typical solar panel is recyclable. In 2020, the ratio of EU panels reaching their end of life (EOL) and panels installed annually was less than 1%. However, this ratio will grow considerably after 2030, reaching about 40% in 2040 and eventually reaching parity with installation levels.
The sector has already laid groundwork for the emerging recycling segment. Back in 2007, SolarPower Europe co-founded the PV CYCLE platform. The platform is an ISO 9001 quality and ISO 14001 environmental certified waste management partner, servicing companies around the world. In 2017, SolarPower Europe contributed to the publication of the NSF 457 Sustainability Standard, which among other things, establishes measurable criteria for environmental leadership around responsible EOL management, and design for recycling. Between 2017-2020, SolarPower Europe similarly contributed to the JRC Preparatory Study on PV product sustainability measures, which creates an evidence base for the need for Ecodesign regulation for solar products. This regulation, in part, works to make European products more readily recyclable.
More widely, treatment and recycling processes and facilities are already in place across Europe. These are only expected to improve with increased economies of scale and increasingly innovative treatment options.