Experts from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics (IBP) have prepared a life cycle assessment (LCA) for the Sunny Highpower PEAK3 string inverter on behalf of SMA. The study, conducted in accordance with internationally recognized scientific standards and methods, tracks the sustainability performance of the inverter throughout its entire life cycle, from the acquisition of raw materials to the end of the product’s useful life. The LCA was independently certified by DEKRA Assurance Services GmbH. The experts attest to the depth of detail and quality of data provided in the study.
“It is important to us that we provide our customers with comprehensive and scientifically sound information on the environmental impact of our products across their entire life cycle,” said Christian Scholz, Head of Global Integrated Management Systems at SMA and project manager of the LCA. “The externally prepared and independently certified life cycle assessment for the Sunny Highpower PEAK3 demonstrates that we are going beyond the studies previously published by our competitors. We will also provide LCA studies for other SMA inverters in the future.”
A life cycle assessment is an established scientific method of quantifying the environmental impact of processes, products and services. ISO 14040 and 14044 standardize the methodology for the LCA, ensuring the transparency needed to deliver a comprehensive representation of the sustainability performance of the product being assessed.
Key findings on carbon footprint and further potential for improvement
The 16 environmental impact categories examined in the LCA include the carbon footprint of the Sunny Highpower PEAK3 under the “climate change” category. This entailed analyzing the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the inverter across its entire product life cycle. Based on the results, it is also possible to calculate the CO2 payback period for the inverter – that is, the time it takes for the amount of CO2e saved by the generation of solar power in a PV system incorporating the Sunny Highpower PEAK3 to offset the amount of CO2e caused by the inverter over its life cycle. Depending on the application scenario examined in the markets typical for the Sunny Highpower PEAK3, the payback period of the inverter is between 1.0 and 1.4 years according to SMA calculations. After that period, inverter operation over the remainder of the useful life of approximately 20 years helps to save CO2e relative to electricity sourced from the utility grid.
“The results of the LCA also provide us with important indications of the areas with the greatest potential for measures designed to improve the sustainability performance of future product generations. They confirm that we are right to focus on the responsible use of materials,” said Scholz.
A white paper summarizing the key findings of the LCA with emphasis on the Sunny Highpower PEAK3’s carbon footprint is available for download on the SMA sustainability website.