TASK — 12

Life Cycle Inventories and Life Cycle Assessments of Photovoltaic Systems

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a structured, comprehensive method of quantifying material- and energy-flows and their associated impacts in the life cycles of products (i.e., goods and services). One of the major goals of IEA PVPS Task 12 is to provide guidance on assuring consistency, balance, transparency and quality of LCA to enhance the credibility and reliability of the results. The current report presents the latest consensus life cycle inventories among the authors, PV LCA experts in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. At this time consensus is limited to four technologies for which there are well-established and up-to-date life cycle inventory (LCI) data (mono- and multi-crystalline Si, CdTe, CIGS, as well as one emerging technology (perovskite silicon tandem).

LCIs are necessary for LCA and the availability of such data is often the greatest barrier for conducting LCA. The Task 12 LCA experts have put great efforts in gathering and compiling the LCI data presented in this report. These include detailed inputs and outputs during manufacturing of cell, wafer, module, and balance-of-system (i.e., structural and electrical components) that were estimated from actual production and operation facilities. In addition, data are presented to enable analyses of various types of PV installations; these include operational data of rooftop and ground-mount PV systems and country-specific PV-mixes. The LCI datasets presented in this report are the latest that are available to the public describing the status in 2018 for crystalline Si (some manufacturing data from 2011 were not updated), 2015 and 2017-2018 for CdTe, 2010 for CIGS, 2010 for HCPV, and 2017 for perovskite silicon tandem technology.

This report provides an update of the life cycle inventory data in the previous report:
R. Frischknecht, R. Itten, P. Sinha, M. de Wild-Scholten, J. Zhang, V. Fthenakis, H. C. Kim, M. Raugei, M. Stucki, 2015,
Life Cycle Inventories and Life Cycle Assessment of Photovoltaic Systems, International Energy Agency (IEA) PVPS
Task 12, Report T12-04:2015.

Updated life cycle inventory data tables are provided in section 3, with electronic versions available at here and treeze Ltd ( under Publications). Note that not all sections of this report have been updated from the previous edition. Updates are provided for crystalline Si supply chain (Section 3.2), thin film CdTe PV module manufacturing (Section 3.3), perovskite silicon tandem PV manufacturing (Section 3.5), PV recycling (Section 3.6), low power (2.5-20 kW) inverters and Li-ion battery storage (Section 3.8), country-specific PV mixes (Section 3.10), and water usage (Section 3.12).

The goal of this report is to curate complete life cycle inventories for the most recent year of each technology available in the public domain. The data collected may not always be directly comparable when they do not represent the same year of technology. This discrepancy may be addressed in part through life cycle assessment harmonization procedures