ETIP Photovoltaics

Roadmap 4

Technologies for sustainable manufacturing

Rationale for support

The need of accelerating the deployment of solar PV man- ufacturing projects in Europe is a critical milestone to strengthen the EU’s leadership in Clean Energy Technolo- gies and contribute to the re-industrialisation of Europe. An example of the needed initiatives is represented by the European Solar Initiative (ESI) which aims to scale up a strong PV manufacturing industry in Europe across the entire value chain from raw materials to recycling, which will capture the additional 20 GW of annual solar demand forecasted in Europe for the next decade. This will gener- ate €40bn of GDP annually and create 400,000 new direct and indirect jobs across the PV value chain

To this as a main objective, the following items need to be considered:

  • Low energy production processes or renewable en- ergy use in production
  • Circular fab approach: performance, quality, and sustainability
  • Developing end-of-life strategies and processes, such as refurbishment, remanufacturing or efficient recycling
  • Study local solutions for local circular manufactur- ing & recycling adapted to the manufacturing site
  • Use of recycled /waste materials in production
  • Reducing manufacturing waste (water, chemicals, materials, gaz...)
  • Designing for longevity, potentially with in-situ re- conditioning
  • Selecting low-impact materials, particularly sec- ondary and biologically derived ones
  • Substituting primary & critical resources, for earth abundant, renewable or recovered resources
  • Quantify how degree of centralisation of manufac- turing impacts sustainability (e.g. by supply chain length)


The energy payback time for monocrystalline silicon-based PV systems is 0.8 to 1.3 years41. After this time, the panels have generated more energy than was required for their production. The impact of their production can also be measured by the volume of greenhouse gases (GHG) emit- ted that is not considered in the energy payback, which is between 17 and 40 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour of power produced by a typical monocrystalline sil- icon based PV system41. Designers and manufacturers should investigate ways of reducing both the energy and GHGs in production

Targets, Type of Activity and TRL

Target percentages for recycled and non-hazardous mate- rials.

Common strategies to achieve more circular designs in- clude:

  • Standardisation – both within a design organisation and between organisations
  • Modularisation – to improve separability, reparabil- ity, and upgradability

Rethinking the design to improve the maintenance, repair, upgrade, refurbishment and/or manufacturing process.

Design for disassembly principles will provide guidance on how to design for a more efficient deconstruction phase and will be constantly evolving.

Legislated incentives to encourage manufacturers to close- the-loop on their supply chain. This could include a prod- uct stewardship scheme.

Labelling or materials passports that track and disclose material origin and composition, recyclability and repair process on panel. Global databases on panel contents.

Standardisation of panel design by industry and govern- ment to enable more efficient recycling, and to enable the waste industry to plan for future waste streams.