IEA PVPS Task 12: PV Environmental Health And Safety (working period 2016-2018)

The aim of IEA PVPS Task 12 is to foster international collaboration in the area of photovoltaics and environment. That includes compiling and disseminating accurate Information on environment, health, safety, and other aspects of sustainability associated with the life-cycle of photovoltaics. The austrian contribution addresses LCA, implementation of sustainability aspects and dissemination.

Short Description

Austria's PV Industry is characterised by being a supply industry for global industry of module producers respectively system designers (encapsulation, wiring, sputtertargets, inverters, batteries..). Active participation in the most important international PV network IEA-PVPS is therefore essential, Austria has been member since the beginning in 1993.

The aim of Task 12 is to foster international collaboration in the field of environmental impacts of PV. That includes the dissemination of reliable information on environment, health and safety as well as sustainability aspects along the whole lifecycle of PV.

The work is based on 3 modules:

  • Subtask 1: Recycling of Manufacturing Waste and Spent Modules
  • Subtask 2: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
  • Subtask 3 Other Sustainability Issues.

Austria, represented by UAS Technikum Wien, R&D area „Renewable Energy Systems" contributed mainly in Subtask 3 – coducting a comprehensive review on socioeconomic indicators and criteria to measure the sustainability of PV modules and plants as well as in dissemination of results.

Subtask 2 is focussing on development of methodologies and data review for LCA, harmonisation of methods and development of guidelines. Based on the framework of ISO 14041 and 14044 different methods and approaches are harmonised and specific parameters and assumptions suggested. This builds the basis for work in other subtasks of task 12.

Ongoing Work in Task 12 addresses leaching from semiconductors and contacs – focussing on toxic and hazardous substances, standards and technologies for PV recycling referring environmental impacts. A web service to show environmental impacts of PV based on GIS and local irradiation data is available as an intermediate version. A preliminary compilation of sustainability indicators was provided.

The following reports were published:

  • „Human health risk assessment methods for PV, Part 1: Fire risks" adressing the risk of hazardous substances in case of fire,
  • „Water Footprint of European Rooftop Photovoltaic Electricity based on Regionalised Life Cycle Inventories", on water consumption and withdrawel for PV systems,
  • „End of Life Solar PV Panels" on technical and economic frameconditions für PV recycling in the future,
  • „Life Cycle Assessment of Current Photovoltaic Module Recycling" on environmental impacts of PV Recycling,
  • „Photovoltaics and Firefighters' Operations: Best Practices in Selected Countries" on risk and measure to prevent danger in case of fire an a new revised version of
  • „Methodology Guidelines on Life Cycle Assessment of Photovoltaic Electricity".


Austria, Belgium, China, France, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Spain, USA

Contact Address

Mag.a Susanne Schidler
Technikum Wien GmbH
Institut für Erneuerbare Energie
Giefinggasse 6
A-1220 Vienna
Tel.: +43 (1) 333 4077-575