The European Commission has developed a methodology to measure the carbon footprint of solar modules to be used in regulatory contexts such as the EU’s Ecodesign Directive.
The Directive establishes a framework for setting Ecodesign requirements, which will ensure that the PV modules and related materials have been sourced, manufactured, used, and disposed of in an environmentally sensitive manner.
This method, developed by researchers associated with the European Commission, is divided into nine steps, including a life cycle assessment (LCA) hotspot analysis devoted to identifying the areas with the most significant environmental impact. This analysis will cover the usage of water and other resources used during the manufacturing and operational life of the modules.
The next steps include adapting Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRs) for application in codesign requirements for modules to access the carbon impact of modules through the value chain, with a focus on manufacturing and shipping.
Before generating final results, the method conducts a sensitivity analysis of silicon content, module yield, and electricity grid mix used during manufacturing.
The results will then be interpreted and shared with stakeholders for consultation to help establish the modules’ carbon footprint requirements.
The researchers suggested setting a cap on the carbon footprint of modules by introducing quantitative requirements, either general or parameter-specific; requiring carbon emission disclosure of PV modules on their energy labels or datasheets.
Earlier in April, members of the European Parliament gave green light to the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), which aims to impose a carbon tariff on carbon-intensive goods imported into Europe.