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Combining Circularity and Environmental Metrics to Guide Development in PV
A.R. Zubas, M. Fischer, E. Gervais, S. Herceg, S. Nold
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Polysilicon, Circularity, Metrics
Energy Transition – Integration, Storage, Sustainability, Policy, Economics, Energy Poverty, Society
Subtopic: Sustainability, Environment, and Circularity of PV
Event: 8th World Conference on Photovoltaic Energy Conversion
Session: 5DO.14.6
1551 - 1554
ISBN: 3-936338-86-8
Paper DOI: 10.4229/WCPEC-82022-5DO.14.6
0,00 EUR
Document(s): paper


A product made from virgin raw materials that ends up in a landfill presents a linear supply chain model. Today's photovoltaic (PV) industry is still largely based on this model. With the increasing volume of production, and consequently the volume of waste, the application of circular economy principles in the PV sector can significantly increase its environmental efficiency. This study analyzes the impact of circularity on the supply chain of PV systems, using the example of silicon used for PV wafer production. Four scenarios based on different technological parameters and circular economy principles are defined. Their evaluation is carried out by the methodologies of Material Circularity Indicator (MCI) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The State-of-art case of the PV polysilicon supply chain corresponds to the MCI score of 0.54. Closed-loop circularity solutions provide the MCI score of 0.80 presenting the potential for a circular economy approach in the field. LCA results covering 16 impact categories show the reduction of environmental impact by 12% with improved circularity and 46% by technological development. The results present the benefits of potential circularity options within the supply chain as well as the impact of technological development on the polysilicon demand.