Sustainability is the word on everyone’s lips, and it means more than simply reducing emissions. To be sustainable requires taking into account the environmental, economic, and social dimension of the entire value chain. Solar is the most sustainable energy source not just because of its low carbon footprint, but also because it leads to increased energy self-sufficiency, and is highly job-intensive, creating more jobs per installed watt than any other power generation source.
The solar industry aims to strengthen its leadership on the sustainability front, and the ambitious European Green Deal provides the perfect framework to cement sustainability as a guiding principle. We take this occasion to shine a spotlight on companies leading the charge with sustainability efforts. Our next sustainability champion, Martin Hackl, Global Director Business Unit Solar Energy, works for Fronius, the Austrian photovoltaic manufacturer, active in the fields of welding technology, photovoltaics and battery charging technology
1. What does sustainability mean to you?
Climate change is all around us and its effects are clearly visible. As a global company, we are well aware of our huge responsibility. For this reason, we have defined “sustainability” as an integrated pillar of our activities and specified environmental awareness as an essential corporate value.
Therefore, sustainability is deeply integrated in our Fronius culture, not just as a topic, but as a living reality, founded upon integrated economic an environmental value. Looking at the time-related dimensions – past, presence and future – we always aim for balanced decisions in every single dimension. This is what our family-owned company is about.
2. What does your company do to support sustainability in solar?
As an industrial company we do have a great impact on the environment, which makes it essential to create awareness and integrate it into all processes. This, for example means that we plan in a forward-looking manner when developing our products and services. Through innovative technologies we are enabled to make a sustainable contribution to environmental protection.
Our vision, ‘24 hours of sun’ is possible because we can make renewable energy available around the clock. ‘24 hours of sun’ means a world that covers 100% of its total energy needs from renewable sources: around the clock and all year round. The technology to turn our vision into a reality is already there, one example being the generation of hydrogen through electrolysis.Furthermore, we successfully developed an extensive environmental analysis of our innovative GEN24 Plus inverter. This not only involved the raw materials and transportation routes, but also factors like durability and recycling options.
3. Which sustainability areas do you focus on, and why?
We place major importance on sustainability across the product’s whole life cycle: from raw materials, to transportation, production and manufacturing to installation and usage through to durability. Recycling and upcycling is a big topic for us. We select our suppliers on the basis of their sustainability measures and their proximity in order to reduce transport distance. Our products are repairable and we are going far beyond market standards and limits with the durability of our products,. This is to name but a few of our efforts.
We are focussing on the consequent usage of renewable energies in all Fronius buildings and within the whole infrastructure. This especially means reducing direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions and moving towards independence from fossil fuels like oil or gas.
Moreover, we provide various incentives to encourage travelling by train or using other climate-friendly transportation to and between our Fronius locations.
4. How does sustainability impact your day-to-day job?
Sustainability is part of our core values and with the Fronius 4.X way we have implemented a foundation on which all employees are working. Our values of community, innovation, creativity, sustainability, quality awareness and cost-effectiveness form the basis of our daily actions.
Our daily commutes already show how dedicated we are to the topic of sustainability. We encourage our employees to come to work by bike or to go by public transport or with an e-car. At Fronius, the company’s own fleet of vehicles is being equipped with an increasing number of vehicles running on alternative energy and its own employees are moving towards environmentally friendly mobility.
All company sites have charging stations where employees can charge their vehicles with green energy from our own photovoltaic systems. As mentioned, we are focussing on the consequent usage of renewable energies in all Fronius buildings and within the whole infrastructure.But not only that. Even our canteens use mainly regional products and organic food. From sourcing, to production, to usage: we really try to anchor sustainability in our day-to-day work.
5. How can Europeans get involved to make their lives and the continent more sustainable?
Obviously, an important step in this process is to identify, analyse and optimise our own energy consumption behaviour. This applies to households as well as businesses. That is why we have developed our core expertise to cover AC-DC inverters, sophisticated products and applications that facilitate consumption monitoring and enable the connection of heating/cooling systems, storage solutions, backup power and e-mobility.