Sustainability of PV Power Plants

Solar power plants, like any other technology, have an impact on the environment and resource consumption. Therefore, it is increasingly important to assess the sustainability of PV power plants to minimize CO2 emissions and meet ESG criteria.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of PV Power Systems

LCA life cycle of a PV system
© Fraunhofer ISE
LCA life cycle of a PV system.

Life cycle analysis (LCA) is a useful tool for environmental, technical and political decision making, which is also used for strategic planning and marketing.

At Fraunhofer ISE, we evaluate the environmental impact of solar power plants, agri-PV systems and floating PV along the entire life cycle - from manufacturing to operation and recycling. In doing so, we consider different impact categories such as global warming potential/climate impact, resource consumption, human & health and pollution to calculate the specific environmental footprint of each individual PV system.

Our services comprise:

  • life cycle assessment (LCA) of PV systems along the value chain
  • environmental impact analyses including CO2, water and resource consumption
  • simplified hot-spot analyses
  • energy payback time (EPBT) analysis
  • benchmarking of systems and technologies
  • re-powering scenarios

To perform the assessment, Fraunhofer ISE draws on meaningful and validated data for components such as solar cells, PV modules, inverters and batteries.

Calculated Repowering times
Calculated Repowering times per scenario and impact category for the investigated PV systems .The columns indicate the timeframe in which repowering is ecologically beneficial. Sina Herceg: Life cycle assessment of PV module repowering, Energy Strategy Reviews 2022,

Further Information on this Research Topic:

PV Production

Technology and Sustainability Assessment

Techno-economic and ecological assessment along the pv value chain.