First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) today released its 2023 Sustainability Report and established a new industry benchmark for transparency by making public details of onsite third-party social audits conducted across its global manufacturing footprint in what is believed to be an industry first. First Solar is also believed to be the first among the world’s largest solar manufacturers to have conducted third-party social audits across its operational global manufacturing footprint. First Solar’s integrated manufacturing process helps eliminate risks and traceability challenges associated with outsourcing and the multiple supply tiers of conventional crystalline silicon solar manufacturing.
First Solar, the only major solar manufacturer that is a member of the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), conducted three onsite third-party RBA Validated Assessment Program (VAP) audits at its manufacturing facilities in the United States, Malaysia, and Vietnam. While the company’s US and Vietnam operations achieved platinum status, the highest possible rating, the audits uncovered the fact that four service providers at its Malaysia facility fell short of First Solar’s standards. Details of the findings and First Solar’s corrective actions are included in the company’s 2023 Sustainability Report. The Malaysia facility is expected to have its VAP closure audit in the fourth quarter of 2023. The purpose of proven third-party social audits like the RBA VAP social audits is not to rubber-stamp compliance but to identify and remedy existing and potential issues to help improve the lives of workers across the supply chain.
“We have chosen to highlight the audit findings openly, not only because of our commitment to transparency and Responsible Solar, but to raise awareness of modern slavery risks that hide in plain sight and to illustrate the value of an independent third-party social audit conducted in a credible, comprehensive manner,” said Mark Widmar, chief executive officer, First Solar. “The solar industry will anchor the global transition to a sustainable energy future, and we believe that it must do so responsibly. Quite simply, our industry’s work to power the energy transition and enable the fight against climate change does not serve as credits to offset its social and human rights obligations.”
The report also highlights that First Solar’s new factory in Tamil Nadu, India, which is scheduled to begin commercial production in the second half of 2023, is expected to be the world’s first net-zero water withdrawal solar manufacturing facility. The facility, located in a region of high baseline water stress, is designed to minimize its impact on local water resources and will rely entirely on tertiary treated reverse osmosis water from the city's sewage treatment plant and have zero wastewater discharge.
Widmar added, “As we continue our journey to growth we are doubling down on our commitment to Responsible Solar and meaningfully contributing to the fight against climate change. This includes designing our manufacturing facilities and products with sustainability in mind.”
Compared to 2021, First Solar has lowered its greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 11%, manufacturing energy intensity by 8%, manufacturing waste intensity by 28%, and manufacturing water intensity by 20% in 2022. The company also secured an ‘AA’ rating from MSCI ESG Research in 2022, the highest in the solar industry, and a CDP Climate Change ‘A-’ rating.
First Solar’s responsibly produced, advanced thin film photovoltaic (PV) modules set industry benchmarks for quality, durability, reliability, design, and environmental performance. The company’s solar modules have the lowest carbon and water footprint of any commercially available PV module today, and it’s the first PV manufacturer to have its product included in the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) global registry for sustainable electronics. The company has also pioneered a high value recycling program, which provides closed-loop semiconductor recovery for use in new modules, while also recovering other materials including aluminum, glass, and laminates.
About First Solar, Inc.
First Solar is a leading American solar technology company and global provider of responsibly produced eco-efficient solar modules advancing the fight against climate change. Developed at R&D labs in California and Ohio, the company’s advanced thin film PV modules represent the next generation of solar technologies, providing a competitive, high-performance, lower-carbon alternative to conventional crystalline silicon PV modules. From raw material sourcing and manufacturing through end-of-life module recycling, First Solar’s approach to technology embodies sustainability and a responsibility towards people and the planet. For more information, please visit www.firstsolar.com.
For First Solar Investors
This press release contains various “forward-looking statements” which are made pursuant to safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements concerning the expectations that 1) our Malaysia facility will have its VAP closure audit in the fourth quarter of 2023; and 2) our new factory in Tamil Nadu, India, will begin commercial production in the second half of 2023 and be the world’s first net-zero water withdrawal solar manufacturing facility. These forward-looking statements are often characterized by the use of words such as “estimate,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “project,” “plan,” “intend,” “seek,” “believe,” “forecast,” “foresee,” “likely,” “may,” “should,” “goal,” “target,” “might,” “will,” “could,” “predict,” “continue” and the negative or plural of these words and other comparable terminology. Forward-looking statements are only predictions based on First Solar’s current expectations and First Solar’s projections about future events and therefore speak only as of the date of this release. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. First Solar undertakes no obligation to update any of these forward-looking statements for any reason, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors that may cause First Solar’s actual results, levels of activity, performance, or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these statements. These factors include, but are not limited to, the matters discussed under the captions “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” of our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and our subsequently filed Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, as supplemented by our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
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