The most sustainable solar companies in 2023

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Solar energy is an emission-free alternative to traditional power production and undoubtedly lessens our reliance on fossil fuels – but there's room for improvement to make solar even more sustainable. As the solar industry matures, more companies are entering the booming market. But, just like any other company, solar companies are ultimately trying to turn a profit. So, how much do they value sustainability? And what are some solar companies doing to better the industry? This article highlights a few companies that prioritize sustainability in their solar energy endeavors.

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Key takeaways

  • Solar energy is a relatively new technology – there's room for improvement to make solar even more sustainable.

  • Not every solar company prioritizes sustainability, so it's important to understand the values and operations of your solar manufacturer and installer.

  • REC, Canadian Solar, and Element Solar are a few companies trying to make solar even more sustainable.

  • Responsible disposal, like solar panel recycling, is a key component of sustainable solar energy.

  • Sign up on the EnergySage Marketplace to explore free quotes from qualified, pre-vetted installers so you can start going solar today!

All solar panel manufacturers are helping improve the environment by creating clean, renewable energy technology – but here are a few companies that are going the extra mile to improve the industry even further:


REC is a solar manufacturer committed to sustainability that's as strong as its commitment to quality. Between their solar panel recycling efforts, low carbon footprint, and governing sustainability policies, REC takes the necessary action to make their sustainability goals a reality. The Norwegian-based manufacturer produces eco-friendly solar modules without compromising efficiency or affordability, and they have the accolades to back it up. Notably, the REC Alpha Pure series won the 2022 Intersolar Award for being "a sustainable alternative to conventional solar modules that could be a promising option for roof-mounted systems."

The REC Alpha Pure-R is the latest version in the award-winning series. The heterojunction cell technology boasts an annual energy yield (aka the amount of energy harvested from your panels) that's 26 percent greater than conventional panels. In addition to their efficiency, the Alpha Pure-R can further lower your carbon footprint. It starts in the manufacturing process: the environmentally-friendly practices implemented in the production of the panels, like removing lead from all panel components, contribute to a lower overall impact on the environment.

Read our review of REC's solar panels.

Canadian Solar

Canadian Solar is a solar developer and manufacturer on a mission to "foster sustainable development and to create a better and cleaner earth for future generations by bringing electricity powered by the sun to millions worldwide" since 2001. With over 75 Gigawatts (GW) of solar modules shipped and 26 GW in their project pipeline, Canadian Solar is a global presence in the solar industry. Not only does Canadian Solar provide emission-cutting energy solutions, but they also strive to operate their business as sustainably as possible.

Canadian Solar aims to reduce water and energy consumption in the production of their products: from 2017 to 2021, the Ontario-based company achieved reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, energy intensity, water intensity, and waste intensity of 17%, 18%, 53%, and 36%, respectively. Canadian Solar also claims to be on track to power all global operations with 100% renewable energy before 2030.

Canadian Solar holds itself accountable to its sustainability commitments through Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals. Beyond ESG, Canadian Solar also adopted the United Nations' sustainable development goals by implementing initiatives like solar module donations.

Read our review of Canadian Solar's solar panels.

Trina Solar

Trina Solar is another photovoltaic (PV) panel manufacturer focused on sustainability. Trina Solar has broken 25 world records on solar efficiency and module power through its research and development efforts. Beyond efficiency, Trina Solar champions "sustainable development and innovation." From 2020 to 2021, Trina Solar decreased power consumption by over 42 percent, water consumption by over 46 percent, and greenhouse gas emissions by over 32 percent (measured in unit output of product). Not only is Trina Solar an industry leader in innovative solar technology but also in sustainable business practices.

Trina Solar's sustainability initiatives don't end with their products and business practices. This company has won multiple awards for corporate social responsibility due to its efforts to expand affordable and reliable clean energy to needy communities. From donating solar modules to primary schools and areas devastated by natural disasters to their financial contribution to solar education and training in marginalized communities, Trina Solar aims to bring everyone the benefits of sustainable solar solutions.

Read our review of Trina Solar's solar panels.

Solar panels produce emission-free energy, but sometimes the production of them can generate greenhouse gas emissions. Here are a couple of considerations that can help you find sustainable panels when shopping for a solar system:

Sustainably sourced materials

Solar panels are made up of many components, some of which are rare, expensive, and difficult to source. Unfortunately, some modules are manufactured with materials that were irresponsibly recovered. When practices requiring things like coal burning are used to collect the necessary components for solar modules, the module's carbon footprint increases and your solar system's sustainability is compromised.

Country of origin

As we just covered, the production of solar panels is not universally sustainable and can harm the environment. Some solar manufacturers still engage in these less-than-sustainable methods partly due to local regulations (or lack thereof). Different countries have different policies regarding solar panel manufacturing, and the carbon footprint of solar modules is highly dependent on where the panels are produced and the primary energy sources available. Individual companies may still sustainably manufacture their products in less sustainable areas; however, the country of origin can clue you in on what's accepted in their manufacturing process.

Solar energy is a long-lasting, cost-cutting, emission-free electricity solution continuously evolving to meet the needs of homeowners and the natural environment. With net-zero climate goals and policies in place across the country, an investment in solar has never been more timely. The EnergySage Marketplace provides qualified quote comparisons from local installers to find a solar system that fits your energy and budget needs. Sign up to receive free quotes from qualified, pre-vetted installers so you can start going solar today!

Find out what solar panels cost in your area in 2024
Please enter a five-digit zip code.
  • 100% free to use, 100% online
  • Access the lowest prices from installers near you
  • Unbiased Energy Advisors ready to help
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