European Commission hints at solar module carbon footprint standards

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The European Commission building in Brussels.

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Plans by the European Commission to introduce eco-design and energy labeling requirements to solar modules and inverters sold in the EU have also mentioned the possibility of regulating for carbon footprint standards.

The EU executive is planning to potentially introduce regulation requiring solar modules, inverters “and systems” to be designed so as to be more easy to repair and recycle, and to include energy labeling to aid consumer choice, with an adoption date envisaged in around a year’s time.

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The process has kicked off with a four-week ‘feedback’ period which will run until October 28 and be followed by an official consultation period penciled in for the first quarter of next year.

The paperwork published by the commission mentioned the fact regulators are considering applying carbon footprint requirements on goods manufactured and traded in the EU as part of the commission’s updated industrial strategy.

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The background papers do not commit to any content of the potential new legislation but a section of the ‘inception impact assessment’ document – which explains the process for carrying out an impact assessment of any new rules – entitled ‘problem the initiative aims to tackle’ stated: “The manufacturing and shipment of photovoltaic modules account, together, for a significant share of the carbon emissions of these products, with improvement potentials that could be attained by means of design choices.”

The papers also touched on the possibility of raising the energy efficiency of EU solar equipment by removing “products off the market that are of a low quality.”

And under the header ‘likely economic impacts,’ the document suggested the possibility of “decreasing the environmental impact, while keeping a high quality process, of the manufacturing phase” of solar products.

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