Working to Mitigate Climate Change through the Worldwide Deployment of Solar Power
This month, the international community gathers in Paris to confront the formidable challenges of climate change at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21). As CEO of NEXTracker and a 27-year veteran of the solar industry, I’m proud to be joining with colleagues in the global renewable energy and environmental communities in expressing the urgent need for world leaders to reach consensus and forge an agreement that advances substantive climate goals when they meet in Paris.
As the international community meets to focus on issues crucial to the survival of our planet and its ecosystems, our team continues its work on facilitating greater deployment of renewable energy worldwide. We can’t underscore emphatically enough the vital role that solar energy plays in combating climate change. We’re extremely proud that our firm has shipped, cumulatively, 1.8GW of solar trackers for PV systems worldwide. (1.8GW of solar is the equivalent of the avoiding 1,832,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions).
By harnessing the power of the sun, we’re helping to ensure the generation of clean, reliable, emissions-free electricity. Advancements in solar technology are empowering individuals, businesses and organizations to deploy highly efficient solar power generation at any scale — in communities around the world. New innovations ultimately translate to greater energy yield and higher return on investment. In addition to contributing to the global effort to spur renewable energy deployment, we take environmental stewardship very seriously across the entire supply chain, from the office, to the factory, to the field. We implement sustainable principles and practices in each and every component of our businesses — from design, engineering, manufacturing through deployment. We’ve evolved solar trackers that are environmentally responsible — through reduced material usage, fully recyclable components, and reduced impacts on land and habitat — while simultaneously making solar project economics more attractive. On the manufacturing front, we’re focused on shortening the energy payback period. Through efficient material use, we’re slowing resource depletion and reducing toxins in the atmosphere. We’re using use less copper, less zinc, and 30% less steel and fewer piers — saving vast amounts of energy in the upstream manufacturing of these materials. We’ve also eliminated the need for potential toxic and difficult to recycle consumables such as hydraulic fluids — instead using clean solar power to drive our tracker motors.
Our self-powered solar tracker, an industry first, utilizes a dedicated solar panel to power the trackers themselves, eliminating both parasitic energy draw from the grid and trenching for power and communications wiring.
Driving foundation beams into the ground is one of the most environmentally intrusive steps in any ground-mounted installation. By perfecting a mechanically balanced design, we reduce the number of foundations by up to 33% or more; lessening both material usage and land / habitat impacts. Independent rows delivers significant environmental benefits: less site preparation, grading — and higher clean power density per site. This minimizes the land footprint and disruption to wildlife, habitat and the natural environment, and enables dual-use agricultural applications… solar that’s compatible with farming.
We view wider clean energy deployment as crucial to our planet’s survival; rapid solar adoption has a key role to play. I couldn’t be more excited than I am right now about the future of solar and the promise it holds for empowering us to achieve energy security, independence and a healthier and safer planet.
Visionary policymakers are taking steps to mitigate climate change. It is now up to the leaders of the nations of the world to follow the example of visionary clean tech innovators and adopters — and take substantive action to combat climate change when they meet in Paris.
If you’re interested in calling on world leaders to take action at COP21, please visit: http://www.sierraclub.org/paris?utm_source=comingclean&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter
Additionally, we urge you to see a new documentary, Time to Choose about the vital role that clean energy deployment is playing in combating climate change. It will be screened at the COP21 conference in Paris, and is being streamed online.
Dan Shugar is CEO of NEXTracker and serves on the board of the Sierra Club Foundation.