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Water Footprint of Photovoltaic Electricity Based on Regionalised Life Cycle Inventories
P. Stolz, R. Frischknecht
Performance, Reliability and Sustainability of Photovoltaic Modules and Balance of System Components
Subtopic: Sustainability and Recycling
Event: 33rd European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition
Session: 5EO.1.3
ISBN: 3-936338-47-7
0,00 EUR
Document(s): presentation


Life cycle assessment is a powerful instrument that allows the quantification of the environmental impacts over the whole life cycle of products and services. Life cycle inventories of photovoltaic (PV) modules, balance of system components (BOS, e.g. mounting structure, electric installation, inverter) as well as PV systems have been published by the IEA PVPS Task 12 [1] and the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) Pilot of PV electricity [2]. Very few studies of the life cycle water use of PV electricity have been carried out so far, which may be due to the low water demand of PV systems during operation. The amount of water used for cleaning the PV modules is much lower than the cooling water demand of thermal power plants or the water evaporation from hydropower plants [3, 4]. The low operational water demand of PV systems is particularly advantageous during periods of drought. However, the amount of water required in the manufacture and disposal of PV modules and BOS components should be analysed in more detail by also taking account of the water availability in the respective countries and regions.