12PV Sustainability Activities

Operating agents

Garvin HEATH
Jose BILBAO

The goal of Task 12 is to foster international collaboration and knowledge creation in PV environmental sustainability and safety, as crucial elements for the sustainable growth of PV as a major contributor to global energy supply and emission reductions of the member countries and the world.

Expertise

The objectives of Task 12 are to:

  1. Quantify the environmental profile of PV in comparison to other energy technologies;
  2. Investigate end of life management options for PV systems as deployment increases and older systems are decommissioned;
  3. Define and address environmental health & safety and other sustainability issues that are important for market growth.

The first objective of this Task is well served by life cycle assessments (LCAs) that describe the energy, material, and emission flows in all the stages of the life of PV. The second objective is addressed through the analysis of recycling and other circular economy pathways. For the third objective, Task 12 develops methods to quantify risks and opportunities on topics of stakeholder interest.

Outreach

Task 12 aims to facilitate a common understanding of PV Sustainability, with a focus on Environment Health and Safety (EH&S), among the various country-members and disseminate the Task’s outcomes and knowledge to stakeholders, energy and environmental policy decision makers, and the general public.

Task 12 is operated jointly by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and University of New South Wales (UNSW). Support from the United States’ Department of Energy (DOE)  and the Australian University of New South Wales (UNSW) are gratefully acknowledged.

Task 12’s current phase began in 2018, ends in 2022 and activities are organized as follows

1Subtask 1 End of Life PV Systems

This subTask addresses the following objectives:

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

 

2Subtask 2 Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

This subTask aims the next targets:

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

3Subtask 3 Other PV Sustainability Topics

The main objectives within this subTask are:

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

Task 12 Reports