SmartGreenScans: Putting our backsheets to the test

Our co-extruded Endurans® HP backsheet is proven to protect PV modules from the elements. But how well does it protect the planet – and its people?

For a definitive answer, we embarked on a ground-breaking project in 2020 to provide a comprehensive Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) of the product. Called The Extensible Project, and funded by the Dutch government, it was conducted by SmartGreenScans – a husband & wife team of Mariska de Wild-Scholten and Paul de Wild who have applied the highest levels of scientific scrutiny to the PV industry for more than a decade. Following three years of analysis, their conclusion? The Endurans backsheet is (near) carbon zero.

“Conducting an LCA is a long and complex process with many data inputs – which in turn determine the reliability of the results we eventually obtain,” explains Paul. “Although we use software to support with all this, a very strong chemical background is needed in order to fully understand all the different materials and processes involved.”

The LCA assessment conducted by SmartGreenScans covered some 20 different impact categories – including ozone depletion, Greenhouse Gas emissions, potential toxicity, and recyclability. Importantly, it was applied not only to the Endurans backsheet, but also a variety of PET-based (and glass) backsheets, to provide an all-important benchmark.

“One of our most interesting findings was that PET emits a bromine-containing compound during its production which is classed as a substance of concern,” says Paul. “We also found that the modified polyolefin material used to create Endurans® HP is very well suited for recycling. Specifically, it can be converted to a usable fuel oil or even recycled back to its original monomer components through a sophisticated pyrolysis process. This is not possible with PET-based backsheets due to the inherent characteristics of PET, the adhesives and cross-linking materials used.”

So, it’s official. “The carbon saved over the lifecycle of the Endurans HP backsheet is approximately the same as the carbon produced,” says Paul. “We can therefore say that this is a (near) net zero backsheet.”

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