Andy Whiting1 Bryan Hartlin1

1, ERM, Salford, , United Kingdom

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is an internationally standardised technique for assessing the environmental and social impacts of a product, process or service from raw material supply through to point of use and disposal. The importance of life cycle thinking is recognised around the world. The European Commission, for example, has concluded that LCAs provide the best framework for assessing the potential environmental impacts of today’s products, while the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has developed an initiative to turn life cycle thinking into practical action around the world.

The EU-funded Double Side Contacted Cells with innovative carrier-selective contacts (DISC) project addresses the need to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels by developing key technologies for the next generation of high-performance photovoltaic (PV) solar cells and modules, allowing ultra-low solar electricity costs with minimum environmental impact. The DISC device architecture enables reduction of non-abundant material consumption, enhancement of the energy yield, and a modern module design ensuring outstanding durability. In such a way DISC will provide the key elements for achieving very low levelized costs of electricity in Europe with potential for further reduction, making solar one of the cheapest electricity sources. DISC aims to contribute towards mitigating the impacts of climate change and towards bringing Europe back to the forefront of PV cell science, technology and manufacturing. More information is available at

This presentation will explore the application of environmental and social LCA techniques to assess the sustainability performance of a novel technology using DISC as an example. The presentation will also discuss how LCA can be used to tackle societal challenges as well as enable the transition to and development of more sustainable energy pathways.