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A Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of PV Modules – Influence of Database and Background System
S. Herceg, A.-K. Briem, M. Fischer, P. Brailovsky, T. Dannenberg, M. Held
Module Manufacturing, Sustainable, PERC, Environmental Footprint, CO2 Footprint
Photovoltaic Modules and BoS Components
Subtopic: Sustainability and Recycling
Event: 38th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition
Session: 4DO.11.2
696 - 700
ISBN: 3-936338-78-7
Paper DOI: 10.4229/EUPVSEC20212021-4DO.11.2
0,00 EUR
Document(s): paper


The installed capacity of photovoltaic modules is increasing worldwide. Simultaneously, sustainable production is becoming more important in the PV sector. To ensure sustainable growth, politics and industry are acting in bringing forward environmental labels and certificates. Oftentimes, values for standards and thresholds are based on life cycle assessment (LCA). Despite all efforts taken towards the comparability of the ecological performance of products within one product category, there are still uncertainties about the reproducibility of results calculated with different LCA software tools and databases. Therefore, we compare the life cycle impact of a state-of-the-art Passivated Emitter and Rear Contact (PERC) solar cell assessed with two of the most commonly used software/database combinations (SimaPro/Ecoinvent and GaBi/GaBi database). We found conformity between the top processes of our hot spot analysis and good reproducibility for categories such as Climate change and Resource use, fossils. For categories sensitive to the underlying regionalization and for processes that are strongly affected by the underlying production mix, we found large deviations. We therefore conclude that results from different databases/software combinations should not be mixed in comparative LCA. Instead, a harmonized database should be used, as it is already done in certain cases.