New ambitious solar energy strategy in Denmark: A quadrupling in sight

The Nordic Barnhouse

As Denmark expands its solar energy strategy, it is crucial to choose the most sustainable technologies with minimal climate costs

Denmark is on the threshold of a green revolution with an ambitious new solar energy strategy for buildings. The government has already tripled solar energy capacity over the past three years and now aims to quadruple it by 2030. While this impressive growth is essential for replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources, it is vital that we choose the most sustainable solar solutions and ensure that our green transition does not compromise the environment.

The right choice of solar technology is crucial

Renewable energy plays a crucial role in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Solar panels in particular have become extremely popular, especially since the price of solar panels has dropped dramatically and electricity prices have increased. However, their climate impact depends on the type of solar panels you choose.

While it is widely assumed that all solar panels positively impact the climate, recent studies reveal that many silicon-based panels may be more “black” than “green.” This is because the CO2 emissions from their production often exceed the CO2 savings they deliver over their lifetime.

The hidden costs you need to consider

The sustainability of solar panels is calculated by their energy payback time (EPBT) – the time it takes for a panel to produce the same amount of electricity that was used in production.

When most people think of solar panels, they think of glass panels with aluminium frames also called mono- and polycrystalline silicon. Because of the silicon, producing these cells requires high heat and a lot of energy, often from fossil fuels, leading to significant CO2 emissions and environmental costs. But what many don’t know is that there are non-silicon panels, also known as thin-film CIGS panels, based on indium, gallium and selenide, which have a significantly lower carbon footprint.

While silicon panels typically have an energy payback time of up to 5 years – and in the worst case up to 48 years – non-silicon CIGS panels have an average energy payback time of only 1.7 years.

The sustainable alternative

CIGS cells only emit 6 grams of CO2 per kWh during their lifecycle – and this can even drop to as low as 4 grams per kWh under optimal conditions such as in southern Europe.

Another sustainable advantage of CIGS solar panels is that far fewer raw materials are used in their production. Raw materials account for only 3% of the materials used, as copper comes from cable scrap and indium and gallium come from recycled TVs, flat screens and mobile phones. As a result, CIGS solar solutions are 98% recyclable – a crucial factor for sustainable disposal and recycling at the end of their lifecycle.

Higher purpose sustainability

Many people are unaware of the big differences in climate impact between solar panels. But the fact is that solar panels with a negative climate footprint can have serious environmental consequences.

As we increase the consumption of electricity for electric cars, heat pumps and industry, it is essential to choose sustainable solar solutions that ensure that Denmark not only shift to renewable energy, but also do so in a way that is not harmful to our planet. Because the overall purpose is that the planet benefits from us installing solar panels.

Long-term green transition

To ensure that the intention is not in vain, it is crucial to raise our ambitions even higher. We need to be aware of the hidden costs to the climate, which are often overlooked or underestimated. It is only by taking these factors into account that we can ensure that our transition to renewable energy benefits the planet in the long run.

We must choose renewable energy solutions that not only meet our energy needs but also consider the planet and future generations.

Read more about the solar solution that powers our needs and preserves our planet here.

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The CIGS solar panel is often recognised on its slim profile, its flexibility and its low weight. CIGS solar panels are better than conventional solar panels in almost every aspect, when it comes to sustainability efforts and especially durability.

Liters of water dissipation / kWh produced

Lower is better

Data from: https://unece.org/sed/documents/2021/10/reports/life-cycle-assessment-electricity-generation-options (page 37-38)

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CIGS compared to poly-Si

Roof mounted

Land use / kWh produced

Lower is better

Data from: https://unece.org/sed/documents/2021/10/reports/life-cycle-assessment-electricity-generation-options (page 37-38)

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CIGS compared to poly-Si

Roof mounted

Ionising radiation emited / kWh produced

Lower is better

Data from: https://unece.org/sed/documents/2021/10/reports/life-cycle-assessment-electricity-generation-options (page 37-38)

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CIGS compared to poly-Si

Roof mounted

Carcinogenic effects / kWh produced

Lower is better

Data from: https://unece.org/sed/documents/2021/10/reports/life-cycle-assessment-electricity-generation-options (page 37-38)

Document

CIGS compared to poly-Si

Roof mounted

Freshwater eutrophication / kWh produced

Lower is better

Data from: https://unece.org/sed/documents/2021/10/reports/life-cycle-assessment-electricity-generation-options (page 37-38)

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CIGS compared to poly-Si

Roof mounted