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Sustainable Material Flows in the PV Sector: What Work Remains to be Done to Achieve SDG 12?
E. Gervais, S. Herceg, S. Nold, K.-A. Weiß
Environmental Effect, Manufacturing and Processing, Recycling, Sustainable
Photovoltaic Modules and BoS Components
Subtopic: Sustainability and Recycling
Event: 38th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition
Session: 4DO.11.4
701 - 703
ISBN: 3-936338-78-7
Paper DOI: 10.4229/EUPVSEC20212021-4DO.11.4
0,00 EUR
Document(s): paper


The large-scale deployment of photovoltaics (PV) is a central pillar in decarbonizing energy systems and reaching climate goals. Although PV is inherently associated to environmental awareness, it is not immune to reputational risks nor exempt of a responsibility for transparency and sustainability leadership. Over the last years, advances in the PV industry have mainly been shaped by cost-reduction targets. We identified in previous works 16 topics where the PV sector comes short in addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12 (SDG 12) “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”. In this paper, approaches to address these sustainability gaps are proposed. The best-practices identified for the PV sector cover all aspects of sustainability as defined by SDG 12 – from resource use through corporate reporting and risk assessment to due diligence and waste management. Insights on methodological needs to improve sustainability accounting in PV are also provided. The compiled list of actions needed, although not intended to be exhaustive, constitutes a starting point for stakeholders to achieve more sustainability in PV value chains.