European manufactured glass-glass modules are particularly climate-friendly

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE used a life cycle analysis to compare the CO2 footprints of monocrystalline solar modules of German, European and Chinese manufacture. The result: Photovoltaic modules manufactured in the European Union produce 40 percent less CO2 than modules produced in China. This is mainly due to the energy mix of the respective countries and less to the emissions that occur during transport, for example.
Frameless glass-glass modules enable an additional emissions reduction of 7.5 to 12.5 percent compared to modules with backsheet foils, regardless of their production location. The reason for this is that glass-glass modules do not require an aluminum frame, the production of which is very energy-intensive. Glass-glass modules also have a longer lifetime and lower annual degradation than those with film, which further improves their carbon footprint. In terms of kilowatt hours generated, the frameless glass-glass module produces 22 to 27 percent less CO2 emissions than the glass-foil module. Overall, the study noted CO2 emissions for glass-foil modules (glass-glass modules) of 810 (750) in China, 580 (520) in Germany and 480 (420) kilograms of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt peak in the European Union.
»Due to the significantly lower CO2 emissions during production and the continued strong increase in demand for more climate-friendly modules worldwide, the task now is to quickly build up the PV production chain in Europe,« says ISE Director Andreas Bett. China, however, has a dominant market position: In 2019, the country produced 68 percent of polysilicon, 96 percent of all wafers, 76 percent of all solar cells and 71 percent of solar modules.

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