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Ultra-low carbon footprint

Thanks to our efforts to achieve sustainability, our organic solar film HeliaSol has an ultra-low carbon footprint. The German testing institute TÜV Rheinland has certified the carbon footprint to be 14.52 kg CO2-equivalent (CO2e) per square meter in a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The total environmental impact arising from the procurement of raw materials, production, use and disposal of the product were assessed. Our organic solar films have an environmental impact of between 3 and 15 g CO2e per kilowatt hour, depending on the solar irradiation of a location. More detailed information is available in the  Whitepaper - Truly Green Energy - Ultra-Low Carbon Footprint and in our HeliaFact - Ultra-low Carbon Footprint.


Truly green energy

Sustainable and innovative energy production is essential to fight climate change. Heliatek's organic photovoltaics (OPV) is not only the greenest of all solar technologies, but also one of the cleanest electricity generating technologies. This makes it a key technology as we move towards a sustainable future.

When compared to electricity generation from conventional fossil fuels such as coal, the generation of energy using our innovative organic solar film saves up to 1,000 g CO2e in greenhouse gas emissions for each kilowatt hour generated. The carbon footprint of the innovative solar films is 50 times lower than the one of the global grid mix and up to 6 times lower than for conventional silicon-based solar modules. More information can be found in our HeliaFact - Green Key Factors.

Greenhouse gas emissions are paid back 10 times faster

Every product releases greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during its entire life cycle, i.e. the phases of production, use and disposal. The so-called Carbon Payback Time (CPBT) is the time a product takes to pay back the GHG emissions released during its life cycle by avoiding emissions. The higher the amount of emissions avoided, the higher the CO2e savings potential. By generating electricity using our solar film and avoiding the generation of electricity using a mix of coal and natural gas, up to 678 g CO2e per kilowatt hour can be saved. The CPBT of Heliatek's OPV at many locations is just 1 to 5 months. This means that GHG emissions can be paid back around 10 times faster compared with silicon-based solar modules. For more information, please read our HeliaFact - Carbon Payback Time.


Energy used is paid back in less than 6 months

Perhaps you have heard of Energy Return on Investment (EROI)? It was developed to determine the ratio of invested primary energy to the energy generated. The higher the EROI, the more positive is the energy effect and the shorter is the so-called Energy Payback Time (EPBT). The EPBT indicates the time it takes for a product to pay back the primary energy requirement throughout its life cycle by means of electricity generation. The EPBT of Heliatek's OPV ranges between 2 and 7 months worldwide (majority of all global locations below 6 months). This means that HeliaSol can generate up to 100 times more energy within a lifetime of 20 years than the energy required for its life cycle. You will find consolidated facts and further information on the subject in the HeliaFact - Energy Payback Time.


End-of-life: Second use as Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF)

As a result of rapidly growing solar capacity worldwide, a massive PV waste stream of 60-78 million tons is expected in 2050. Heliatek’s ultra-light solar films help to reduce the PV waste volumes by bringing up to 2.5 times less material per installed capacity in circulation than silicon based solar modules. The solar films are classified as solid recovered fuel (SRF), which means that the foils can be incinerated as high-quality calorific fuel (22 MJ/kg). The calorific value is higher than for wood pellets, residual waste and even lignite. This helps to save natural resources for energy production.

We are working on an economical and ecological reasonble recycling process to reuse components in secondary raw material streams, which is important in the circular economy approach. Find out more about the end-of-life of our solar films in our HeliaFact – End-of-Life.

Product responsibility

Taking responsibility for the environmental impact caused by the procurement of raw materials, production, use and disposal – this is what Heliatek understands by product responsibility. Our Dresden site uses an energy-efficient roll-to-roll production process with low material consumption. It takes only 1 gram of organic material to produce one square meter of solar film. We do not use scarce raw materials, rare earth elements or toxic heavy metals such as lead or cadmium. Therefore, disposal of our films at the end of their life is easy and environmentally friendly. The result is an ultra-low carbon footprint of around 15 kg CO2e /m2. By comparison, the production of one kilo of beef generates 24 kg CO2e and the carbon footprint of a German citizen is almost 9 tons CO2e per year.

We thereby address an important concern of solar energy. It goes without saying that photovoltaic systems produce green and clean electricity. However, their production and also their disposal can consume a lot of energy and resources. We have taken up the challenge of making solar power generation a greener process throughout the product life cycle.

Preserving 'Critical Raw Materials' &​ minimize supply chain dependencies

The solar industry is highly dependent on raw material supply chains from China, especially for Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) crucial for renewable energy technologies. Out of the more than 50 CRMs identified by the EU, HeliaSol only requires Aluminum and Copper, significantly reducing the amount of CRMs used per Wp compared to conventional c-Si PV modules - by a factor of 7. This makes HeliaSol the perfect choice for preserving Critical Raw Materials while reducing supply chain dependencies from China. Read more in our HeliaFact – Critical Raw Materials.​

General Remark

All HeliaSol values refer to a TÜV certified Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of HeliaSol type “1270-6000” with 10% APE – certified towards end of 2023. We are currently preparing for the certification of our latest generation of HeliaSol 436-2000 with an APE of ~8.5%, that will result in a slightly higher carbon footprint.