In the run up to the largest Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference, Linde Gases, a division of The Linde Group, is encouraging the thin-film photovoltaic (PV) industry to shift focus from grid parity to green parity.

As the world tackles climate change and solar energy approaches grid parity, Linde believes the PV industry should begin to address the carbon footprint of PV module manufacturing to deliver truly green energy.

In a bid to reduce production costs, the group says manufacturers must not be tempted to adopt lower cost solutions without considering the overall impact on the long term sustainability of the PV industry.

Based on work by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory , the payback time for both crystalline silicon cells and thin-film silicon modules, in terms of CO2 equivalent emissions, is between three to four years, with an aggressive target for thin-film of one year payback.

Linde is reviewing the entire thin-film manufacturing and supply chain from a materials perspective and has identified the possibility of significant CO2-eq. emission savings in the PECVD chamber cleaning process, by using Fluorine in place of nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 17,200 times that of CO2. By changing from NF3 to F2 alone, Linde estimates that the CO2 payback time for thin-film PV modules can be cut significantly, by as much as two years.

Dean O’Connor, Head of Electronics Market Development & Technology at Linde Gases Division said, “Linde is committed to technologies and products that unite the goals of customer value and sustainable development.”

“As grid parity becomes ever closer to a reality, we as an industry need to start channeling our efforts towards reducing the carbon footprint of solar cell manufacturing. Environmental concerns continue to dominate the global agenda so green parity is an inevitable important new area of focus for suppliers and manufacturers.”

At the 24th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference in Hamburg (21-25 September), Linde Gases Division is bringing together industry experts from M+W Zander, Oerlikon, Suniva, Malibu, EuPD Research, to host a seminar entitled ‘From grid parity to green parity – sustainability in an era of overwhelming cost pressure’.

By considering aspects of PV fab design, as well as equipment and materials selection, Linde will explore methods to improve sustainability in manufacturing. Case studies from current cell and module makers will also be featured for discussion.