First Solar and Qcells Score Ecolabel for Federal Tenders

First Solar and Qcells Score Ecolabel for Federal Tenders

First Solar and Qcells Achieve Top Ecolabel in U.S.

First Solar and Qcells Score Ecolabel for Federal Tenders

First Solar and Qcells Score Panel Ecolabel Preferred in U.S. Federal Tenders

The solar energy industry continues to evolve with new advancements and certifications that ensure sustainability and environmental responsibility. Recently, two major solar panel manufacturers, First Solar and Hanwha Qcells, achieved significant milestones. They have registered several of their solar panel designs under a label indicating they are among the most sustainably produced panels. This certification is highly favored by the U.S. government for sourcing solar equipment in tenders.


Solar energy is a critical component in the transition to a cleaner and greener economy. The U.S. government has been actively promoting the use of sustainable energy solutions. The recent achievements by First Solar and Qcells highlight the progress being made in this sector. Their panels have met the stringent criteria set by the Global Electronics Council (GEC), making them EPEAT registered products. This certification is a testament to their commitment to sustainability and transparency in their manufacturing processes.

What is EPEAT?

EPEAT, which stands for Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, is a globally recognized ecolabel. It provides information on the environmental impact of various electronic products, including solar panels. The EPEAT standard includes criteria such as:

  • Reduction of hazardous substances: Ensuring that harmful chemicals are minimized in the production process.
  • Energy efficiency: Promoting the use of technologies that consume less energy.
  • Recyclability: Encouraging designs that are easier to recycle at the end of their life cycle.
  • Sustainable manufacturing practices: Supporting processes that reduce environmental impact.
First Solar and Qcells Score Ecolabel for Federal Tenders

First Solar and Qcells Achievements

Qcells, a prominent player in the solar industry, announced that its residential and commercial solar panels have achieved the EPEAT registration. This certification is a major accomplishment, reflecting the company’s adherence to the high standards set by the GEC. Kelly Weger, Senior Director of Sustainability at Qcells, emphasized the importance of this achievement, stating:

“The EPEAT ecolabel will make it easy for customers who value transparency and sustainability to find our products and work with us. Beyond commercial and residential customers, this now means our USA-assembled and sustainably made solar products will help the federal government achieve its climate goals.”

Similarly, First Solar has made notable strides in the industry. Their Series 6 Plus and Series 7 TR1 products are the first photovoltaic (PV) solar modules to achieve the EPEAT Climate+ designation. This new benchmark signifies the company’s leadership in producing environmentally friendly solar technology. Samantha Sloan, Vice President of Policy, Sustainability, and Marketing at First Solar, highlighted the significance of this achievement:

“As we add yet another differentiating factor that separates our technology from the competition, we are reminded that not all solar is created equal and that embodied carbon remains a challenge for the solar industry.”

The Importance of EPEAT Certification

The EPEAT certification is not just a label; it is a commitment to producing high-quality, environmentally responsible products. For solar panel manufacturers like Qcells and First Solar, this certification provides several benefits:

  • Market Differentiation: EPEAT certified products stand out in the market, attracting customers who prioritize sustainability.
  • Government Preference: EPEAT certification aligns with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) guidelines, making these products preferred choices in federal tenders.
  • Environmental Impact: These certifications ensure that the products contribute to reducing the overall carbon footprint, supporting global efforts to combat climate change.

Federal Government’s Role

The U.S. federal government plays a crucial role in promoting sustainable energy solutions. By preferring EPEAT certified products in its tenders, the government sets a precedent for other sectors to follow. This move encourages manufacturers to adopt sustainable practices and innovate in ways that reduce environmental impact.

First Solar and Qcells Score Ecolabel for Federal Tenders

Global Electronics Council’s (GEC) Involvement

The GEC has been instrumental in establishing the EPEAT standards. The council recently activated its Ultra-Low Carbon Solar (ULCS) Criteria for the Solar category of the EPEAT electronics ecolabel. This new criterion sets the industry’s first embodied carbon threshold limits for use globally. Bob Mitchell, GEC’s CEO, commented on this development:

“GEC and our community created this differentiator to help purchasers, developers, and investors quickly identify technology products designed and manufactured with climate change mitigation in mind. Adding solar manufacturers to this community is vital to drive our collective transition to a greener economy.”

Sustainability in Solar Industry

The solar industry is at the forefront of the renewable energy movement. Sustainability is a key focus, and achieving certifications like EPEAT is a significant step toward a more sustainable future. Solar panels that meet these standards ensure:

  • Reduced Environmental Impact: Lower carbon emissions during manufacturing and increased recyclability.
  • Enhanced Energy Efficiency: Improved energy output with less resource input.
  • Customer Trust: Transparency in production processes builds trust with consumers who value environmental responsibility.

Key Takeaways

  • EPEAT Certification: A critical indicator of sustainability in solar panels.
  • First Solar and Qcells: Leaders in achieving high standards for environmentally friendly products.
  • Government Preferences: EPEAT certified products are favored in U.S. federal tenders, promoting sustainable procurement.
  • Global Standards: The GEC’s involvement ensures that these standards are recognized and adopted globally.
First Solar and Qcells Score Ecolabel for Federal Tenders


  1. What is EPEAT? EPEAT is a globally recognized ecolabel that assesses the environmental impact of electronic products, including solar panels.
  2. Why is EPEAT certification important? It ensures that products meet high standards of sustainability, making them preferable for environmentally conscious consumers and government tenders.
  3. What achievements did Qcells and First Solar make? Both companies achieved EPEAT certification for their solar panels, with First Solar also receiving the EPEAT Climate+ designation.
  4. How does the U.S. government support sustainable solar products? The U.S. government prefers EPEAT certified products in its federal tenders, encouraging sustainable procurement practices.
  5. What role does the Global Electronics Council play? The GEC establishes the criteria for EPEAT certification, ensuring that products meet stringent environmental standards.


The achievements of First Solar and Qcells in obtaining EPEAT certification mark a significant step forward in the solar industry’s commitment to sustainability. These certifications not only enhance the marketability of their products but also contribute to global efforts in reducing environmental impact. The support from the U.S. government and the Global Electronics Council further solidifies the importance of sustainable practices in the solar industry.

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