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IEA PVPS Press Release
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International Energy Agency
Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme
PRESS RELEASE
21 March 2022 – The Task in charge of PV Sustainability Activities (Task 12) of the IEA PVPS has recently published a new report detailed below.
"This report is addressed to readers interested in the various facets of resource use impacts of PV electricity including resource criticality"

"One of the main merits of this report is its bottom-up life cycle based approach of resource use caused by PV systems."
Rolf Frischknecht, Main Author
Mineral Resource Use Footprints of Residential PV Systems

Resource use intensity is often mentioned as one of the main characteristics of PV systems and PV electricity. Recently, the International Energy Agency published a report on the role of critical minerals in clean energy transitions. The Product Environmental Footprint pilot study on PV electricity quantified (among other environmental impacts) its abiotic depletion potential. So far, a comprehensive assessment of resource use impacts highlighting the different facets of its impacts is however lacking.

For the first time, the resource use impacts of PV electricity are quantified simultaneously with four impact category indicators recommended or suggested by the Life Cycle Initiative hosted at UN Environment. The indicators cover distinctly different aspects of resource use, namely resource depletion with the Abiotic Depletion Potential, ultimate reserves (ADPUR), economic resource scarcity with the Abiotic Depletion Potential, economic reserves (ADPER), resource quality with the Surplus Ore Potential, Ultimate Recoverable Resources (SOPURR) and re-source criticality with the ESSENZ method.

The resource use impacts caused from the generation of 1 kWh electricity with a residential scale photovoltaic (PV) system installed in Central Europe using mono- and multi-crystalline silicon panels and CdTe panels, respectively are quantified. The product system includes ma-nufacture, use and end of life treatment (take back and recycling) of the PV panels, cabling, inverter and supporting structure, the supply chains of the raw materials and energy used in PV panel and inverter manufacture as well as transport logistics.

The publication is available here.

About the IEA PVPS Task 12
Task 12 was established in 2010 within the IEA PVPS TCP. 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.

Contacts for Further Information:
Garvin Heath, Task 12 Manager - garvin.heath@nrel.gov
Jose Bilbao, Task 12 Manager - j.bilbao@unsw.edu.au
Rolf Frischknecht, Main Author - frischknecht@treeze.ch
The International Energy Agency (IEA), founded in 1974, is an autonomous body within the framework of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The Technology Collaboration Program (TCP) was created with a belief that the future of energy security and sustainability starts with global collaboration. The program is made up of thousands of experts across government, academia, and industry dedicated to advancing common research and the application of specific energy technologies.
The IEA Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme (IEA PVPS) is one of the TCP’s within the IEA and was established in 1993. The mission of the programme is to “enhance the international collaborative efforts which facilitate the role of photovoltaic solar energy as a cornerstone in the transition to sustainable energy systems.” In order to achieve this, the Programme’s participants have undertaken a variety of joint research projects in PV power systems applications. The overall programme is headed by an Executive Committee, comprised of one delegate from each country or organisation member, which designates distinct. ‘Tasks,’ that may be research projects or activity areas. This report has been prepared under Task 1, which deals with market and industry analysis, strategic research and facilitates the exchange and dissemination of information arising from the overall IEA PVPS Programme. 

The IEA PVPS participating countries are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, and the United States of America. The European Commission, Solar Power Europe, the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) are also members. 
 
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