Sustainability must become the guiding principle of the solar PV sector, and players must take stock of issues across the whole value chain, concludes industry group SolarPower Europe in a new report.

As the most cost-competitive and versatile energy source globally, solar PV is a key player in global sustainable development.

However, the concept of sustainability extends far beyond the carbon footprint of any single technology, and consideration must be given to all environmental, social and economic impacts of the sector, says the group.

Solar panels being fitted onto the roof of a church in Virginia, US. (Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Solar PV players are encouraged to use the report to “benchmark themselves” to improve responsibility, transparency and accountability across their operations.

SolarPower Europe calls on companies to work across seven categories: carbon footprint; circularity; sustainable supply chain; biodiversity in large-scale solar; planning and design for public acceptance; human rights; and supply chain transparency.

For each of the seven categories, the group identifies key sustainability challenges, and identifies real-life examples of best practice.