- SolarPower Europe and Solar Energy UK launch the Solar Stewardship Initiative (SSI), setting out the solar industry’s concrete plan to reinforce a responsible, transparent, and sustainable solar value chain.
- Work on the SSI has been ongoing since February 2021, and is now publicly endorsed by over 50 solar companies, spanning the full value chain.
- A core instrument of the Initiative is the SSI Code, a comprehensive corporate sustainability standard, which is set to be piloted at several sites in different countries in October 2022, and then open to public consultation in Spring 2023
- Following completion of the consultation and publication of the SSI Code, applications will be accepted for verification assessments; with the full roll-out of the SSI assurance scheme expected next year, in December 2023
In the context of EU legislative proposals on corporate responsibility in supply chains, today the European solar industry has published its concrete plan towards a more responsible, transparent, and sustainable value chain. Following years of industry work on sustainability best practices, the Solar Stewardship Initiative sets out the solar sector’s next steps in ensuring transparency and responsible production across the growing value chain.
The Solar Stewardship Initiative, launched by SolarPower Europe and Solar Energy UK, is a solar-specific supply chain assurance scheme being designed to further develop confidence in how, where, and by whom, solar products are manufactured. This will mean businesses and consumers can trust that their solar products comply with international environmental, social and governance standards.
A new roadmap sets out the next steps of the Solar Stewardship Initiative, from the pilot stage in October 2022, through multi-stakeholder consultation, to the full roll-out of the SSI assurance scheme in December 2024.
The initial pilot stage in October 2022 will test the consultative SSI Code, which, when final, will be a comprehensive corporate sustainability standard. The consultative Code has been developed with the support of supply chain and experts across environmental, social, and governance disciplines, and is based on internationally recognised standards and guidelines.*
Building on a foundation of international standards and guidelines, the SSI will recognise existing credible and equivalent third-party standards systems in order to avoid redundancy, audit fatigue, and to promote the use of such programmes. SSI supporters have been implementing a range of sustainability standards and frameworks in their own value chains, several which are already being assessed for recognition by and alignment with the SSI Code.**
Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe, said; “The solar sector must grow exponentially to fight climate change, and with growth comes responsibility. Today the solar sector is showing how seriously we take that responsibility. Cutting through a complex issue, we are presenting a clear timeline towards a solution that consumers can trust – an assurance scheme that their solar products are made under the highest human rights’ and sustainability standards.”
Chris Hewett, Solar Energy UK CEO, said: “The solar sector is a vital part of the solution to the core challenges we face: climate change, the cost of living crisis, and ensuring our energy security. The sector must grow, and it must grow responsibly. The Solar Stewardship Initiative shows clearly how the industry takes its obligations seriously, and we are proud to support this work. The Solar Stewardship Initiative will deliver assurance which means that consumers can have confidence that the solar industry operates to the highest ethical standards.”
Over 50 solar companies, from across the solar value chain, have endorsed the work and goals of the Solar Stewardship Initiative via a joint statement.
The Solar Stewardship Initiative will be officially launched via online webinar on Tuesday 4th October 2022 at 14:00 CET. Register here.
*Internationally recognised frameworks and standards including, but not limited to;
- The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs)
- United Nations Global Compact (UNGC)
- OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct
- International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions
- OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas
- WRI/WBCSD Greenhouse Gas Protocol
- ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management systems
- ISO 14044:2006 Life cycle assessment
**Existing third-party standards systems being assessed including, but not limited to;
- Aluminium Stewardship Initiative Performance Standard
- Amfori BSCI Code of Conduct Responsible Business Alliance Code of Conduct
- ETI Base Code
- ISO 37001: Anti-bribery management system
- ISO 14001: Environmental management system
- ISO 45001: Health and safety management system
- ResponsibleSteel Standard
- SA8000: Social Accountability standard
- Together for Sustainability