Table 3

List of actions for the PV sector to address SDG 12. It is by no means exhaustive but provides a starting point for all stakeholders to improve the sustainability in PV value chains.

Sustainability strategies for the PV sector What work remains to be done
Define common sustainability goals with all stakeholders –Prioritize sustainability issues at corporate level by materiality analysis
–Define and commit to a common PV sustainability roadmap at sectoral level to address the SDGs
–Set quantitative sustainability targets for the PV sector
Implement methodology to assess progress towards sustainability –Advance applicability of LCSA to PV
–Integrate multidimensional considerations (e.g., impact on SDGs) in the conception of sustainability strategies
–Expand and harmonize datasets for LCAs, criticality, and circularity analyses
Reduce primary material intensity –Prioritize raw materials for efficiency measures based on sustainability assessment
–Accelerate the switch to far-less material intensive production techniques
–Integrate considerations on material waste in upstream supply chain in supplier selection
Reduce water use –Standardize wastewater recycling measures
–Analyze the techno-economic feasibility of alternative plant conceptions to enhance water recycling
–Identify hotspots related to water footprint in the supply chain
Reduce (fossil-fuel based) energy consumption –Source electricity from renewable energies
–Strive towards energy-efficient production buildings
–Advance technologies with low energy consumption for polysilicon production
Optimize the treatment of production line outputs –Disclose treatment of silicon tetrachloride waste, acid and caustic wastewaters, solvents, dopants, and silane
–Standardize lower discharge limits
–Analyze the techno-economic feasibility of alternative plant conceptions for re-circulation of chemical flows
Avoid the release of harmful substances during extraction, use and EoL phases –Improve data availability for impacts occurring during extraction and end-of-life
–Reduce/replace restricted substances in PV products or implement robust containment strategies
–Inform recyclers on material composition of used panels
Increase the collection rate of EoL modules –Standardize take-back regulatory schemes and develop collection infrastructure
–Develop end-of-life decision tool (reuse, repair, recycle) for PV modules including a sustainability assessment
–Enable module traceability during use and end-of-life
Extend the use phase of products –Standardize quality and safety warranties for second-life modules
–Implement legal requirements on repairability and design-for-repair
–Support repair via dedicated research on degradation prevention and financial instruments
Increase the efficiency of EoL recycling –Improve data availability on material quality losses during recycling
–Standardize circularity assessments and modelling of closed loops in LCA
–Advance research on cost-efficient high-value recycling for silicon-based modules and design-for-dismantling
Increase the use of recycled materials in production –Standardize quality requirements for secondary materials for use in PV and minimum recycled content
–Prioritize secondary materials to be used based on sustainability assessment
–Advance research on financial instruments to support circularity
Standardize sustainability reporting –Include reporting on total primary material intensity, production line outputs and use of recycled content
–Standardize quantitative Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
–Set internal goals for the KPIs and display progression over the years
Standardize Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices –Prefer quantitative KPI to describe social issues rather than qualitative codes of conduct, where possible
–Adopt meaningful indicators to avoid blind spots in social issues
–Assess progress in CSR practices
Improve the supply security of materials and products –Analyze the risks related to raw material use via criticality assessments
–Integrate risk assessment already at product development stage
–Analyze the systemic impacts of criticality mitigation strategies over all dimensions of sustainability
Ensure the social and environmental performances of suppliers –Adopt sustainability certification schemes for mineral value chains
–Disclose suppliers and their sustainability performances in regular reporting
–Advance research on product tracking related challenges as data gaps, data quality and data exchange processes
Democratize sustainability labelling for PV modules –Increase number of PV products with sustainability label
–Inform consumers on sustainability labels for PV
–Communicate sustainability performances of the PV sector

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