Solar Scorecard: ranking module manufacturers according to environmental and social criteria


Sustainable, environmentally friendly, resource-efficient business models as well as social aspects should be taken into account more when assessing manufacturers of photovoltaic modules in the future. The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) is now looking to turn these principles into an American standard.

The non-profit organisation, which is based in San Francisco, was founded in 1982 when highly toxic substances were found in the groundwater near high-tech companies in Silicon Valley. SVTC successfully introduced new legislation that made monitoring underground chemical tanks mandatory in the United States.

Since then, SVTC has been working on rolling back the harmful effects on health and the environment of producing, using and distributing electronic products. Two of the tools that it uses to achieve this are its own scientific research and legal representation of affected persons. But SVTC isn't just scrutinising IT companies in Silicon Valley anymore. It has also been looking at the photovoltaic industry for quite some time now. In November 2014, SVTC started working on implementing the Scorecard as a national standard that fulfils the requirements of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). This work should be completed by 2017.

The organisation has now published its sixth Solar Scorecard . It ranks module manufacturers using a point system with twelve criteria on social, sustainable and environmentally friendly manufacturing. The Sixth Annual 2015 Solar Scorecard presents an index derived from these criteria for forty module manufacturers. Thirteen of the companies on the list provided information directly to SVTC. Publicly available sources were used for the others.

"We need consistent industry-wide sustainability practices and reporting procedures that consumers can expect from all solar companies," said Sheila Davis, executive director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. The extent to which module manufacturers disclose information on the use of hazardous chemicals in their modules still varies widely: only six manufacturers (Trina, AUO, SunPower, SolarWorld, Sharp, and JA Solar) publish comprehensive lists on their websites. Sixteen companies also publish reports on individual categories such as toxic waste, heavy metals, air pollutants, and ozone-reducing substances.

Associate Professor Dustin Mulvaney at the San Jose State University, who helped SVTC with interpreting the Solar Scorecard, emphasises that it is becoming increasingly commonplace for companies in other sectors of the semiconductor industry to publish this type of environmental data. In his view, the fact that six companies on the 'Top 10' list of module manufacturers are sharing their data with SVTC is a sign that the industry is becoming more mature.

Volker Buddensiek

Similar Entries

DNV GL published its fourth annual PV Module Reliability Scorecard report. This year’s report finds that the reliability and durability of modules submitted to DNV GL for testing for the 2018 PV Module Reliability Scorecard generally improved in several of the test categories. However, in one of the test categories, damp heat, performance decreased. With 22% of manufacturers experiencing at least one failure in overall testing, buyers being conscious of the specific Bill of Materials (BOM) that identify specific models as Top Performers is crucial.

The ranking chart is based on a survey of manufacturers between January and February this year. (Source: data supplied by manufacturers)

The annual ranking of the world's largest flat plate collector manufacturers is now published on It based on a survey among the largest industry players carried out by solrico agency. The 2017 ranking clearly shows the market dominance of Chinese companies.

Solar developments in India grew exponentially in 2017. Further announcements and new market opportunities in the energy storage and electric mobility sector strengthen India to become an interesting and very promising market in the future. The state of Karnataka is one of the most flourishing Indian solar markets and the first Indian state to launch a specific EV policy. Intersolar India, the most pioneering exhibition and conference for the solar industry is celebrating its 10th edition in Bangalore, the capital city of the top solar market Karnataka on December 11-13, 2018. The event will focus on the solar, energy storage and electric mobility industries and will welcome more than 17,000 industry professionals and 300 exhibitors. In addition, Intersolar India will continue to connect solar businesses in Mumbai on April 4-5, 2019 with a focus on financing and India’s western solar markets.

Bloomberg has once again rated LONGi Solar, one of the leading manufacturers of monocrystalline high-performance modules, as a Tier 1 company. With an annual production capacity of 6,500 megawatts (MW), LONGi Solar ranks sixth among the largest Tier 1 manufacturers and is also listed as "Top Performer" in the PV Module Reliability Scorecard Report 2018 of DNV GL, the world's largest independent certification body in the energy sector.