IEA PVPS Task 12: Photovoltaics (PV) Sustainability Activities (working period 2024 - 2027)

Photovoltaics (PV) is a renewable energy source that is an important technology for the energy transition. For this reason, or rather despite this, it is important to consider sustainability aspects in PV as well. End-of-life solutions in particular play an important role, as a strong increase in the number of end-of-life modules is expected in the coming years. Well-functioning recycling methods, repair possibilities or reuse options are of great importance. In this project, these existing methods and capacities in Austria are being researched and published in reports and workshops.

Short Description

Sustainable growth of PV represents an important contribution to renewable energy supply and helps to reduce carbon emissions. PVPS Task 12 aims to promote international cooperation in the field of PV sustainability, including environmental and social aspects.

The general objectives of Task 12 are:

  1. quantify the environmental profile of PV electricity, serving to improve the sustainability of the supply chain and to compare it with the environmental profile of electricity produced with other energy technologies.
  2. help improve circularity of PV technology and materials understanding, development and adoption.
  3. study and capture potential synergetic impacts of PV system deployment within its environment and ecosystem.
  4. distinguish and address actual and perceived issues associated with social and socio-economic aspects of PV technology that are important for market growth; and
  5. disseminate the results of our analyses to technical experts, policymakers, and the public.

Circular economy and solutions for end-of-life (EoL) modules gain in importance in the following years as the EoL volume continues to increase. Therefore, technical and economic possibilities for the reuse, repair and recycling of modules are needed. Most of the technologies are still under development and a lot of research work and cooperation is required to find suitable solutions for the waste treatment in Austria and around the world.

Austria has taken on a pioneering role in research projects targeting the repair of early-stage defective modules. This will be a strong focus of the participation in Task 12. A repair can prevent the dismantling of otherwise perfectly functioning modules and thus save resources, costs and CO2.
International collaboration within Task 12 provides the opportunity to develop global comparisons of procedures for EoL modules. The globally applied technologies for recycling, political framework structures and the latest research and development work in the field of recycling can be compared and listed.

On the one hand, the goal is to disseminate results from Austrian research projects internationally and to disseminate them in the renowned PVPS task reports. On the other hand, the collaboration should also be used to learn about and learn about international developments in the field in order to stay up to date here in Austria.

Expected results are:

  • A global PV recycling report with developments in R&D and current waste treatment
  • A status report on circular economy activities and strategies in IEA countries. The report should include the opportunities, challenges and barriers for the circular economy of PV systems as well as success stories.
  • A publication on possibilities to extend the active service life of PV modules with early failures (e.g. backsheet cracks) through repair measures.


Publications are available on the website of IEA PVPS Task 12.


Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Spain, Switzerland, The Netherlands, USA (Task Leader)

Contact Address

Project lead

DI Anika Gassner
Österreichisches Forschungsinstitut für Chemie und Technik (OFI)
Franz-Grill-Straße 5, Objekt 213, 1030 Wien
Tel.: +43 1 798 16 01 132

Project partners

Dr. Mag. Sonja Feldbacher
Polymer Competence Center Leoben (PCCL)
Roseggerstraße 12, 8700 Leoben
Tel.: +43 3842 42962 55

DI Michaela Penn
Österreichische Energieagentur
Mariahilfer Straße 136, 1150 Wien
Tel.: +43 (0)1-586 15 24 - 104