Scatec is committed to being a responsible business by considering our projects’ long-term performance and end-of-life decommissioning, aiming to minimise potential negative impacts upon society and the environment, as well as maximise economic value.
As most of our greenhouse gas and resource footprint is related to the components our plants are built with, it is essential that we make informed decisions to reduce this impact where possible. Renewable power plants require large amounts of resources to be built. Solar power plants require mining and processing of quartz to make glass and silicon wafers, iron to make steel for the mounts and metals such as copper and silver for wiring. Wind power plants require steel for turbine towers, fossil-based polymers for the blades and rare earth metals for generator magnets. Hydropower plants can require large amounts of steel and concrete to build dams and piping. With Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) lasting up to 25 years, plants must be designed and operated with consideration to long-term performance and eventual decommissioning.
Waste volumes and types generated varies by renewable technologies. For solar and wind projects most waste is generated upstream during extraction and processing of raw materials to create wind turbines and solar panels. These relate to tailing and other waste from mining and processing of key inputs such as iron ore to make steel or quartz for glass and silicon. Solar module manufacture involves a variety of chemicals such as acids that must be carefully disposed of, in addition to the generation of large volumes of wastewater.
Relatively little waste is generated during the operation of solar and wind projects. Hydropower projects can generate large volumes of silt during operations. This however can be a resource when applied to other areas such as farms to increase soil quality.
At project end-of-life, large volumes of component waste is generated, and we are currently working to develop a strategy for end of life for all our projects. None of Scatec’s projects have reached end of life yet, and the timeline for the first projects to reach this stage is until about 10 years.
|Procurement (outside of Scatec's direct control)||Construction||Operations||End of life|
|Large volume of:||Large volume of:||Moderate volume of:||Large volume of:|
|Wastewater||Packaging (e.g. pallets and cardboard)||Damaged components||Modules and trackers|
|Hazardous and non-hazardous wastes||General waste||General waste||Turbines|
Our overall approach to waste management is detailed in our Environmental Policy. During 2021, we also developed an Project Lifecycle Management & End of Life Guide. This was prepared in accordance with relevant standards such as the Equator Principles and IFC Performance Standards to communicate expected standards across our organisation.
We follow the waste hierarchy for waste management; we work to first prevent waste being generated then minimise, reuse, recycle, recover energy, and then dispose of waste responsibly working to avoid landfill as far as practically possible. We are however normally dependent on local waste management infrastructure and since we operate in many developing countries, recycling rates may be lower than desirable.
We develop plans for hazardous substance and waste management for construction and operations. All Scatec operated sites must have a waste management procedure in place based on Scatec’s corporate guidelines and requirements. This includes measuring waste volumes and obtaining waste receipts from waste contractors who must be suitably certified when handling hazardous waste. Contractors are reviewed by the site manager and /or HSSE responsible, and if necessary regional environmental managers. Site waste management is reviewed intermittently through internal audits and external ISO 14001 compliance audits.
We take a circular, cradle to cradle approach, and every project will develop a plan for end of life and decommissioning. At end of life, we will make sure that all major components such as solar panels and turbine blades are reused or recycled.
We also engage with key component suppliers on their use of raw materials and handling of waste and set minimum requirements for environmental management during procurement processes.
Construction and operations waste data is collected internally. In 2022, we will review and improve data quality and comparability and establish reporting in line with GRI 306-3 Waste generated.
Waste management and end of life mapping
In 2021, we mapped waste management practices across our sites to better understand the status and identify common challenges. Key finding revealed that solar modules are the most challenging waste type. In Europe this is typically not an issue, as recycling schemes and facilities are well established. In most developing countries, this is usually not the case, where landfilling is still the common approach.
Modules can be damaged due to lightning, wind, accidents, or quality errors. Some damage can be fixed, such as damaged control diodes and many sites are doing so already. A key focus for 2022 will be to share best practices on repairment across our project sites and continue our work of identifying and assessing panel waste management solutions for all sites.