Raising the Industry Standard: Low Carbon Solar

Large energy buyers and project developers are starting to pay attention to the carbon in their solar supply chain.  What’s under consideration and will it raise the industry standard for renewable energy procurement? The REBA Institute’s Decarbonizing Industrial Supply Chain Energy (DISC-e) program brings together large energy buyers and their partners to make sure the energy that goes into renewable energy projects is as clean as the energy that comes out.  

Why is low-carbon solar, or considering carbon emissions associated with the full life cycle of solar panels, an issue the energy industry needs to address?  Solar manufacturing represents a small percentage of global emissions, but demand for solar is forecasted to grow at a compound annual rate 3 to 5 times higher than the average industrial commodity (e.g. steel, which accounts for 8% of global emission alone).  If business as usual continues, this growth risks putting the carbon impact of solar panels on par with aluminum manufacturing, the fourth largest industrial commodity from an emissions standpoint, by 2040. 

Commercial and industrial sector energy buyers currently participating in the DISC-e Solar Working Group have indicated the intent to prioritize request for proposal (RFP) bids with low-carbon solar panels as early as next year. Incorporating specific and verifiable environmental, social, governance (ESG) metrics into renewable energy procurement RFP processes is a clear demand-signal, and creates an opportunity to raise the energy industry standard to low-carbon solar.

By tackling the solar supply chain now, energy buyers can set a low-carbon standard that will support the sustainable growth of the industry while mitigating the environmental impact and potential reputational risk that may otherwise impede that growth.  Want to add your voice to the conversation?  Join DISC-e’s next Solar Working Group meeting on Wednesday, July 7 at 12 PM ET — no prior participation required. This meeting is the fourth in a series of discussions and will solicit feedback on DISC-e’s proposed strategy for solar supply chain decarbonization.  Email jen@reba-institute.org to register and learn more about the program.