Sustainable business – in all areas
The Phoenix Solar Group is geared to conducting sustainable business in its international operations. This is our way of assuming responsibility for society and for our employees, shareholders and customers.
Table of Contents
The Phoenix Group exclusively markets and sells products worldwide which, when used, contribute to protecting the climate. Photovoltaic systems generate energy from sunlight. Power plants operate virtually silently and do not emit damaging substances, which means that operating a photovoltaic plant or system does not release any carbon dioxide (CO2). Photovoltaic systems therefore make an important contribution to an energy mix specifically targeting a reduction in CO2 emissions. Depending on the module technology, solar power plants generate the amount of energy used to build them within around three years. As a result, they produce a positive energy balance, with an operating life of more than 30 years based on today’s standards.
When construction work is carried out on the large photovoltaic power plants of the Phoenix Solar Group, all nature conservation and environmental covenants from construction plans as well as other regulatory requirements are complied with and monitored. Environmental standards are even exceeded: For instance, the assembly frames for ground-mounted photovoltaic plants do not require any concrete foundations. Surfaces are therefore not sealed and can be reused again upon full decommissioning. We comply with the regulations on construction work issued by the NABU (German association for the protection of nature) and by the BSW (German Federal Association of Solar Energy).
Biodiversity is defined as the variety of life and its processes, with species diversity as its centrepiece. Numerous studies have delivered proof that solar parks can have positive impact on biological diversity. Although construction work always represents an intrusion into the natural flora and fauna, solar parks are, however, an opportunity of improving the natural habitat of the different plants and animals or of even recreating this environment. This is particularly true of land previously used for farming where biodiversity is low and which can be considerably enhanced, for example, by being converted into extensively used green fields.
Moreover, redeployment may also contribute to lowering the emission of greenhouse gases from land usage as, in many cases, meadows effectively function as carbon sinks. The contribution is therefore twofold: not only are species and biotopes protected but also the climate – through the environmentally compatible production of solar electricity. A significant improvement in biodiversity occurs with land formerly intensively used for agricultural purposes. The burden on the environment is mitigated by stopping the use of fertilisers and crop protection agents on the land. Other sites of secondary importance or land damaged by environmental pollution, such as landfills or contaminated redevelopment sites, can benefit appreciably from being used for solar parks.
Environmental management system
Phoenix Solar AG has introduced an environmental management system based on standards defined for quality assurance (DIN EN ISO 9000 et. seq.) and on international standards regulating environmental management (DIN EN ISO 14000 et. seq.). The environmental management system regulates organisational workflows, identifies weaknesses and ensures the implementation of corrective measures, as well as making the tools and funds available for improving and sustaining the company’s environmental situation. Reviews that are regularly conducted monitor how effective the system is and adjust and improve it on an ongoing basis. To implement the principles laid down under the environmental policy and to improve corporate environmental protection we have set ourselves the following environmental goals:
- conserving resources (energy, water, etc.)
- avoiding waste and lowering the consumption of supplies
- avoiding any potential impact on the environment
- placing priority on environmental aspects in the selection of suppliers and encouraging suppliers to strive for greater environmental protection.
Phoenix Solar AG has appointed an officer in charge of environmental management to ensure the application as well as adherence to its environmental policy and environmental goals. In close cooperation with senior management, this officer ensures that all the standards specified by DIN EN ISO 14001 and regulatory requirements are implemented and complied with. Adherence to our environmental policy is reviewed once a year in our company as part of an internal audit.
Certified power plant construction
Within the scope of power plant construction, Phoenix Solar AG implemented a quality and environmental management system back in 2009 which complies with the international standards under DIN EN ISO 9001:2008 and DIN EN ISO 16001:2004 and has had this system certified. We therefore fulfil the highest industry standards in power plant construction. Over the course of the following financial years, these processes have been developed, supplemented and optimised on an ongoing basis, with annual audit reviews being conducted both internally and by an external auditor. These audits deliver proof that the standards applicable to power plant construction work are being applied and that processes are effective.
In parts of the company which are not officially certified the environmental management system is just as important and enjoys an extremely high priority. Our action is geared to the standards prescribed under the environmental management system in all matters. Extending the certification to encompass other areas of the company is planned and under way.
Phoenix Solar AG introduced an energy management system which conforms to DIN EN 16001:2009 standards in its Ulm branch in the financial year 2011. We have therefore introduced and implemented an energy efficiency programme designed to reduce the energy requirements of buildings, the transport system, electrical appliances, the availability of services and of other purposes. The main consumption of water, energy and other resources is systematically measured, recorded and communicated. We have defined our energy policy as follows: "We at Phoenix Solar AG herewith undertake to sustainably reduce our energy consumption and raise our energy efficiency through a continuous process of improvement. To achieve these goals we have set in place an energy management system as defined under DIN EN 16001:2009. In doing so, we will ensure that all requirements under this standard are correctly implemented and that the processes forming part of this energy management system are improved on an ongoing basis. Moreover, we will regularly conduct reviews and ascertain that:
- the necessary financial and structural prerequisites are ensured
- all employees are involved in the implementation and adhere to the energy management system, and that responsibilities are defined
- the relevant obligations and other requirements are taken account of
- energy aspects/energy data are regularly analysed and reviewed
- programmes to promote energy efficiency are correctly implemented and observed
- the results of a regular audit are measured and reviewed
- energy efficiency and consumption is integrated as an additional criterion in the procurement of merchandise."
Suppliers with whom we maintain long-term cooperations are selected on the basis of a criteria catalogue which comprises not only the product quality but also the manufacturing process, working conditions and company management. Almost all manufacturers with whom we cooperate are working on professional systems for taking back and recycling modules (PV CYCLE) or have their own recycling programmes. They guarantee recycling even if the manufacturer ceases to operate in the market.
The vehicle fleet is subject to guidelines on engine capacity, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. In a survey conducted by the environmental organisation Deutsche Umwelthilfe, our vehicle fleet took second place among leading German companies in 2010, with the average vehicle emitting 127 grams of CO2/kilometer (km). The vehicle of Dr. Andreas Hänel, our Chief Executive Officer, ranked in top place, emitting 129 grams of CO2/km, which was the lowest consumption compared with the vehicles of all other participating companies. We were also awarded the "Green Card for Credible Climate Awareness" by the Deutsche Umwelthilfe in 2011. With emissions averaging 113g CO2/km, the vehicle fleet of the Executive Board is already below the target of 120 g CO2/km set by the EU and valid from 2012 onwards. Moreover, the first electric car was added to our vehicle fleet in December 2010. An electric power station has been installed at the Sulzemoos location for employees, guests and the company's own vehicle fleet. We will gradually be supplementing our existing vehicle fleet through adding more electric cars in the future.
The electricity used in our offices in Sulzemoos and Ulm came from a certified supplier of green electricity. At least 90 percent of the supplier’s electricity mix is made up of renewable energies and a maximum of 10 percent from highly efficient natural gas power stations through heat and power cogeneration. All workstations are equipped with modern and energy-efficient appliances and can be switched off from the energy supply centrally to avoid unnecessary stand-by consumption during the night and at weekends. In 2010, the annual energy consumption by the Sulzemoos offices came to around 180,000 kWh. Given that the number of employees is growing consumption overall can be expected to rise. Phoenix Solar is nonetheless consistently carrying out new measures to keep the per capita consumption to the lowest level possible.
The offices in Sulzemoos have been heated by a wood chippings thermal power plant since March 2007. In 2009, a cooling unit, which sources in its cooling energy from the local well system, was installed to provide air conditioning. In erecting new buildings and carrying out office building renovation work the emphasis is on using environmentally compatible building materials. The materials used must have proven compatibility with the environment and fulfil ecological criteria. Timber must, for instance, come from sustainable local forestries, and the insulation used inside the building is made of cellulose fibres or flax.
Energy conservation and the sustainable handling of raw materials in everyday work has the highest priority in the Phoenix Solar Group. Waste is sorted at each workstation in accordance with stringent criteria and recycled for the most part. Top priority is, however, given to avoiding waste in the first place. Suppliers are required to act in a way that is as environmentally compatible as possible and to use packaging material sparingly.
Green office supplies
We are also very economical in our use of paper. Furthermore, we carefully select the paper quality of all print material, such as that used for our annual report and catalogues for example. The paper manufacturers must bear the seal of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) which is a sure sign that the product comes from responsible forest management. This system delivers proof that, throughout the whole processing cycle and trading process right through to the consumer, the wood or paper has not been mixed up with materials which have not been certified and controlled. In addition to the quality of the paper, Phoenix Solar also places environmental requirements on the printing process. A tender was put out in 2010 to select a new company which was both FSC certified and offered climate-neutral printing and, in addition, could produce proof of working in an environmentally compatible way. Almost all print orders have been carried out by this printing company since then. Moreover, the customary office supplies are purchased from an ecologically-oriented specialist store which fulfils particularly high ecological standards aimed as far as possible at avoiding substances in manufacturing, use and recycling which could be harmful to people and the environment.
Phoenix Solar AG uses the GOGREEN offer of Deutsche Post in to dispatch its mail in a CO2-neutral way. As part of GOGREEN, CO2 emissions arising from the dispatching of letters are ascertained according to international standards and accounted for. The burden on the environment is balanced out through giving support to registered environmental protection projects recognised worldwide.
Phoenix Solar green commuters
The employees of Phoenix Solar AG go to work on their bikes, use public transport facilities or form carpools. In doing so they make an active contribution to lowering the emission of harmful hothouse gases. In 2008, we launched the "Phoenix Green Commuters" project within the company. Since then our green commuters’ contribution to lowering the environmental impact and CO2 emissions has been measured. The calculation includes all those who travel by bus and rail, by bike, sharing cars or on foot. The result: our green commuters will probably save more than ten tons of CO2 in 2011. Calculations are based on an average fuel consumption of 7 litres per 100 kilometres.