Task 12

PV Sustainability 

The growth of the PV market is based on the promise of environmentally friendly energy generation, and is sustained by the support of the environmentally conscious public via market incentives, direct subsidies and R&D support. Without such support the industry can not grow to levels that would enable the reduction of direct (production and installation) costs to the levels of conventional energy generation. Furthermore, continuing diligence on EH&S issues is necessary to safeguard the environment, which is the promise of photovoltaics.

This Task 12 aims in fostering international collaboration in the areas of safety and sustainability which are crucial for allowing PV to grow to levels enabling a major contribution in the needs of the member countries and the world. They are both technical and perception issues that need be addressed.

The goal of Task 12 is to facilitate a common understanding of EH&S issues among the various country-members, and disseminate the task-group's knowledge and understanding to the stake holders and to the energy- and environmental policy decision makers.

The overall objectives of Task 12 are to:

  • Quantify the environmental profile of PV in comparison to other energy technologies;
  • Define and address EH&S and sustainability issues that are important for market growth.

The first objective of this task can be served with life cycle analysis (LCA) that describes energy, material and emission flows in all the stages of the life of PV. The second objective will be addressed with assisting the collective action of PV companies on defining material availability and product recycling issues and on communicating "lessons learned" from incidents or potential incidents in PV production facilities. The third objective (i.e., dissemination) will be accomplished by presentations to broad audiences, producing simple fact sheets documented by comprehensive reports, and engaging industry associations and the media in the dissemination of the information.

The Task 12 is divided in the following 4 Subtasks:

Subtask 1 Recycling of Manufacturing Waste and Spent Modules

This subtask addresses the following objectives:

  • Assist the development of collection infrastructure by examining and evaluating the collection infrastructure of other recyclables (e.g., electronics, liquid crystal displays)
  • Enhance the interaction among industry players so that they share information and resources for collection and recycling
  • Show the technical and cost feasibility of collection and recycling (to environmental-policy makers, e.g., WEEE, RoHS)
  • Identify common tasks where financial resources can be shared (e.g., separation of EVA from the module).

Subtask 2 Life Cycle Assessment

This subtask aims the next targets:

  • Establish and demonstrate, with comprehensive and transparent studies over the full life cycle, that PV systems are environmentally friendly compared to other energy systems.
  • Show the improvement trends of the PV environmental profile by certain indicators (e.g., EPBT, GHG emissions, waste reduction, materials' recycling/recovery).
  • Continue showing such progress in annual updates over the course of Task 12 (5 years).
  • Valuate the environmental benefits of PV by showing avoided impacts or avoided "external" costs.

Subtask 3 EH&S in Manufacturing Facilities

The main objectives within this subtask are:

  • Develop risk factors and compare with other energy technologies
  • Identify accident prevention and control options for specific technologies
  • Identify pollution control technologies for major types of PV manufacturing facilities
  • Identify prevention and control strategies for green-house gases (GHG) in PV manufacturing facilities

Subtask 4 EHS Information Dissemination

Task 12 status reports can be found in the annual reports of the IEA PVPS Programme.

All Task 12 reports available for download can be found under Documents or Archive.