Solar Technology & Project Developers

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Solar Technology & Project Developers industry entities manufacture solar energy equipment, including solar photovoltaic (PV) modules, polysilicon feedstock, solar thermal electricity-generation systems, solar inverters and other related components. Entities also may develop, build and manage solar energy projects and offer financing or maintenance services to customers. The industry uses two primary technologies: PV and concentrated solar power (CSP). Within solar PV, two main technologies exist: crystalline silicon-based solar and thin-film solar, which includes panels made using copper indium gallium selenide and cadmium telluride. The primary markets for solar panels are residential, non-residential (commercial and industrial) and utility-scale projects. Entities in the industry operate globally.

Relevant Issues (6 of 26)

Why are some issues greyed out? The SASB Standards vary by industry based on the different sustainability-related risks and opportunities within an industry. The issues in grey were not identified during the standard-setting process as the most likely to be useful to investors, so they are not included in the Standard. Over time, as the ISSB continues to receive market feedback, some issues may be added or removed from the Standard. Each company determines which sustainability-related risks and opportunities are relevant to its business. The Standard is designed for the typical company in an industry, but individual companies may choose to report on different sustainability-related risks and opportunities based on their unique business model.

Disclosure Topics

What is the relationship between General Issue Category and Disclosure Topics? The General Issue Category is an industry-agnostic version of the Disclosure Topics that appear in each SASB Standard. Disclosure topics represent the industry-specific impacts of General Issue Categories. The industry-specific Disclosure Topics ensure each SASB Standard is tailored to the industry, while the General Issue Categories enable comparability across industries. For example, Health & Nutrition is a disclosure topic in the Non-Alcoholic Beverages industry, representing an industry-specific measure of the general issue of Customer Welfare. The issue of Customer Welfare, however, manifests as the Counterfeit Drugs disclosure topic in the Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals industry.
General Issue Category
(Industry agnostic)

Disclosure Topics (Industry specific) for: Solar Technology & Project Developers

Energy Management
  • Energy Management in Manufacturing

    Solar panel manufacturing typically uses electrical energy purchased from the grid. Energy can account for a considerable share of the total cost of production. Considering rising energy costs and regulatory uncertainty surrounding the future of fossil-based energy, entities that diversify their energy sources may manage the associated risks and maintain a reliable energy supply more effectively. Entities that minimise energy use through effective energy management may reduce costs and gain a competitive advantage through operational efficiency and competitive pricing of products. Competitively priced products are particularly important given the intense price competition within the solar technology industry.
Water & Wastewater Management
  • Water Management in Manufacturing

    Solar photovoltaic panel manufacturing can be water-intensive, and ultra-pure water is a critical input in some processes. The manufacturing process also may generate wastewater, which must be treated before disposal or reuse, and therefore may result in incremental operating costs and capital expenditures. Furthermore, depending on the location, solar equipment manufacturing facilities may face water scarcity and related cost increases or operational disruptions. Water resource use may generate tension with local water users and associated risks, potentially disrupting manufacturing operations and adversely affecting brand value. To mitigate water supply and treatment risks, entities may adopt various strategies such as recycling process water, improving production techniques to lower water intensity, and improving water treatment systems.
Waste & Hazardous Materials Management
  • Hazardous Waste Management

    Solar panel manufacturing may use hazardous substances that can cause adverse health and environmental impacts if not properly managed. Common thin-film technologies use materials including cadmium, gallium arsenide and copper indium gallium (di)selenide, which require careful handling during manufacturing and disposal. The handling and disposal of hazardous wastes produced during manufacturing may result in increased operating costs, capital expenditures, and in some instances regulatory costs. As such, effective management of hazardous materials, including through reduction, reuse, recycling, and safe storage and disposal, may reduce operating costs and mitigate potential regulatory penalties or reputational damage.
Ecological Impacts
  • Ecological Impacts of Project Development

    Many large, publicly listed solar technology entities conduct project development, including the evaluation and acquisition of land rights, site permitting, and engagement with stakeholders. Successful development may be contingent on securing environmental permitting approval and permission from local governments and communities. Siting of medium or large solar installations in ecologically sensitive areas, including endangered species habitats, may render environmental permitting more difficult and costly. Project development also may be affected by local land-use laws and community opposition to projects because of their land footprint or concerns over local water resource impacts. These factors may slow or disrupt the development process, possibly resulting in higher costs, lost revenues or project delays. Entities with robust strategies for environmental impact assessment and mitigation may reduce the risk of project delays, increasing the likelihood of timely project completion.
Product Design & Lifecycle Management
  • Management of Energy Infrastructure Integration & Related Regulations

    Entities in the industry have faced challenges in establishing solar energy as a cost-competitive means of energy production and GHG reduction, and they have encountered difficulty in capturing a greater market share of global energy generation. To promote greater adoption of solar, the industry may benefit by preventing systemic disruptions to the existing energy infrastructure and essential energy services. Entities are innovating to overcome the technical challenges of increasing solar integration with the grid. They also are engaging regulatory agencies and policymakers to reduce regulatory barriers to solar energy adoption, many of which are emerging because of concerns regarding increasing overall grid electricity costs and grid disruptions. Solar entities are investing in innovative technologies to reduce hardware and installation costs, and they are pursuing business-model innovation to reduce the cost of capital and facilitate the purchase of solar energy systems. Solar technology entities may improve their competitiveness through deploying one or more of these strategies successfully to ensure their ability to scale over the long term.
  • Product End-of-life Management

    Solar panels may contain hazardous substances as well as reusable materials of high economic value. Given the rapid expansion of solar energy globally, increasing volumes of solar panels are expected to reach the end of their useful life in the medium term. In some regions, manufacturers may be required by law to take financial responsibility for their products at the end-of-life stage, including collection and recycling. Product take-back, recycling and disposal may result in higher upfront investments or capital expenditures for entities. However, as more modules reach the end of their useful life and this issue receives more legislative attention, entities may differentiate themselves through offering product take-back and recycling services. This may increase revenues as well as result in lower long-term costs by reusing recovered materials in manufacturing processes.
Materials Sourcing & Efficiency
  • Materials Sourcing

    Solar technology entities typically source numerous materials including polysilicon, metals, glass and electrical components. Entities additionally use specific materials critical to solar panel and module manufacturing. Limited global resources of these critical materials, as well as their concentration in countries that may have relatively limited governance and regulatory structures or may be subject to geopolitical tensions, expose entities to the risk of supply chain disruptions and input-price increases or volatility. Entities may mitigate associated risks by ensuring supply chain transparency, sourcing materials from reliable suppliers or regions that have minimal environmental or social risks and supporting research into alternative inputs.

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