Sustainability is not just a buzzword; it's a guiding principle for innovation, especially in the world of solar energy. At Over Easy Solar, we're proud to introduce a new concept in the PV industry – prefabricated PV units with vertical bifacial solar panels. The VPV Unit promises to enable more buildings with flat rooftops to install solar, like for example existing sedum rooftops. To further prove and enhance the sustainability, we've partnered with Fraunhofer ISE to conduct a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), focusing on the carbon footprint of this groundbreaking idea.
Product Name: Over Easy Solar Vertical Photovoltaic (VPV) Unit
Product Description: The Over Easy Solar VPV is a solar unit featuring vertically mounted bifacial solar panels on a structural frame. It offers easy transport, lightning-fast installation (over 10 times quicker than traditional systems), simplified logistics, and minimal rooftop assembly. Plus, it makes building maintenance a breeze and can be integrated into eco-friendly building designs, including green roofs.
The Global Connection
Our production reaches across the globe. While some crucial components are manufactured in China, the structural frame is crafted in Spain and then transported to the assembly facility, also in Spain. This international collaboration ensures we tap into the highest level of quality and expertise throughout our product's journey, but it also introduces challenges that we are highly aware of – such as long transportation distances and risk connected to the working conditions in the PV supply chain in China.
Tommy Engvik, Co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer of Over Easy Solar, states:
“Sustainability is our primary concern, and it is why we founded the company. We have our feet on the ground, we personally inspect our suppliers’ facilities, and we have clear guidelines on how our suppliers should source materials and inputs for manufacturing”
Breaking Down the LCA
We have done a Life Cycle Assessment in collaboration with Fraunhofer ISE, following some important principles:
Functional Unit: We're evaluating the environmental impact of producing 1 kWp (kilowatt-peak) of our photovoltaic module.
Data Sources: We used SimaPro 220.127.116.11 software and drew data from the Ecoinvent 3.8 database, in addition to using Fraunhofer ISE’s own collected data, following the IPCC2021 GWP100 method.
System Boundary: Our study focuses on the phase from raw materials to the gate, excluding end-of-life considerations.
The Climate Impact
Our LCA revealed some crucial insights:
Solar cell manufacturing contributes to 57% of the total carbon footprint. Within this, poly-Si, a key component, accounts for 47% of the emissions from solar cell production.
PV panel manufacturing, excluding solar cells, sees 58% of its carbon footprint coming from glass.
The structural frame plays a smaller role, making up 10% of the total carbon emissions.
According to our calculations, the CO2 footprint from the solar energy over the lifetime of the product, will typically be in the range of 15-25 gCO2e/kWh. As a comparison, the footprint for the German power mix in 2022 was 385 gCO2e/kWh (link).
To make our Over Easy Solar VPV even more eco-friendly, we have some strategies in mind:
We're exploring if we can make solar panels with specially sourced low-carbon wafers and solar cells.
We're optimizing material usage to reduce waste – for example, we re-use packaging in several steps of our value chain.
We're exploring local manufacturing in regions with a higher share of renewable energy sources in their electricity mix and shorter transport distances.
We will soon develop an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for our product – the first EPD in the solar industry to entail all the materials included in a rooftop solar installation.
These steps could significantly reduce our carbon footprint and further highlight the sustainability of our innovative solar solution.
At Over Easy Solar, we're committed to working with the best partners and continuously improving our supply chain to create one of the most sustainable solar products available.
Read more: See also our research webpage vertical.solar where we highlight more of the research from our collaborations with Fraunhofer ISE and others.