How do Solar Companies Quantify Sustainability?

Solaires Measuring Our Impact

Solaires Team | Victoria, B.C | November 7th, 2023

To overcome climate change and reach sustainable development goals, Canada has committed to reducing carbon emissions to 440 megatones by 2030, which means we need to rapidly shift towards clean energy solutions that minimise our environmental impact. Globally, the dominant green technologies from renewable resources are hydroelectric, nuclear, wind, solar, and geothermal. However, these alternative energy sources don’t reduce emissions equally. To compare these technologies, it’s possible to estimate the amount of greenhouse gases that would be produced during the life cycle (CO2-eq), providing insight into their potential contributions to global warming. These would be positioned against the amount of power the technology would generate across their lifetime (kWh), normalising their emission-producing capability for an accurate comparison.

Within the rankings, solar tends to perform the worst among green technologies , with emissions being rated at 43 g CO2-eq/kWh. By comparison, wind power is among the greenest, producing 13 g CO2-eq/kWh. The solar industry’s GHG problem is due to the high environmental costs of silicon photovoltaics. While less polluting solutions exist on the edges of the market, 95% of the solar market is held by traditional silicon . Many technologies, including CdTe or organic thin films, have attempted to compete for the next generation of solar, but after many decades of research and commercialization, they remain on the fringes of the commercial market. This is where Solaires comes in: our perovskite technologies only cost 11 g CO2-eq/kWh and hold unparalleled potential to supplant silicon as the solar solution of the future.

The most immediate place where we can make these savings is for small consumer devices such as phones, wireless headphones and keyboards, using our PVModules . These devices require disposable, single-use batteries to power them, generating significant greenhouse gas emissions. Our photovoltaic modules can replace single-use batteries, which produce a staggering 72 g CO2-eq per AA battery. Our modules can replace two AA batteries a year (e.g. a remote control), we will prevent the use of 10 batteries during the 5-year period that consumer devices are expected to be in use. A small 12 cm2 module to power these devices costs 19 g CO2-eq to produce. Put together, each device removes 720 g CO2-eq from battery production, at the cost of 19 g CO2-eq in perovskite production. Altogether, each device we produce will save approximately 700 g CO2-eq;  saving more than 90%! At full production, we estimate that our PVModules will reduce 13 kt of CO2-eq/year, with a total reduction of 65 kt CO2-eq across their 5-year lifetime by removing batteries from production.

Further into the future, we will begin selling and producing our PVFilmsTM, a line of outdoor solar modules for residential, commercial, and industrial uses. PVFilmsTM will contribute to Canada's (and the world’s) electrical grids, replacing the need for high-emission silicon technologies that dominate the current market. By the time we are producing 2 GW of PVFilmsTM per year, we will be reducing 1.2 Mt CO2-eq from the average global energy grid, which would continue to increase by ~0.6 Mt every year.

  • 1 Ton of CO2e Represents
  • 1,961
    vegetarian meals
    meat-based meals
    one-way trip
    from Paris to New York by plane
    cotton t-shirts
    4,300 kWh
    electricity consumption in Belgium
    143,190 hours
    usage of a 30w LED TV

    Major energy consumers have committed to environmental goals, like Apple moving towards renewable energy to save 14.3 Mt of CO2-eq/year and Walmart aiming to achieve a reduction of 1 Bt of CO2-eq by 2030 . Our PVModules and PVFilmsTM will make a sizeable dent into global emissions by supporting companies, consumers, and governments to reach their reduction targets. Altogether, our low carbon technology will reduce the reliance on fossil fuels and electrical grid, lower the consumption of batteries, and diversify the supply chain of green technologies.