Life Cycle Inventories and Life Cycle Assessments of Photovoltaic Systems: IEA PVPS Task 12: PV Sustainability

Rolf Frischknecht, Philippe Stolz, Luana Krebs, Mariska de Wild-Scholten, Parikhit Sinha, Garvin Heath (NREL Technical Monitor)

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


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.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages89
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

NREL's Garvin Heath is a task manager of IEA PVPS Task 12; see NREL/TP-6A20-73853 for the previous version of this report

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-88864

Other Report Number

  • Report IEA-PVPS T12-19:2020


  • life cycle assessment
  • life cycle inventory
  • photovoltaic systems


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