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Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of photovoltaic panels: A review

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... For the most part, LCA studies of renewable energy in Africa focus on quantifying environmental impacts, hotspots, and contribution analyses, with a few exceptions investigating life cycle inventories, and economic and social aspects. So far, there are only two peer-reviewed literature reviews of LCA of renewable energy in Africa ( Bacenetti et al. 2016 ;Gerbinet et al. 2014 ), but they are not exclusive to the continent and only focus on one type of energy source. In particular, Bacenetti et al. (2016) and Gerbinet et al. (2014) review publications on anaerobic digestion and solar PV respectively, in various regions of Africa, Europe, Asia, South America, and North America. ...
... So far, there are only two peer-reviewed literature reviews of LCA of renewable energy in Africa ( Bacenetti et al. 2016 ;Gerbinet et al. 2014 ), but they are not exclusive to the continent and only focus on one type of energy source. In particular, Bacenetti et al. (2016) and Gerbinet et al. (2014) review publications on anaerobic digestion and solar PV respectively, in various regions of Africa, Europe, Asia, South America, and North America. A review that exclusively draws from existing studies of life cycle assessments of renewable sources in Africa is missing. ...
... LCAs of solar PV in the reviewed studies are mostly for groundmounted systems. Comparatively, similar assessments conducted for high-income countries explore a broader range of installations i.e. roof-mounted, façade integrated, building integrated, and ground-mounted ( Gerbinet et al., 2014 ). The environmental impacts of ground and roof installations are mainly associated with the length of the transmission and distribution infrastructure (i.e. ...
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Renewable energy capacity in Africa is expected to reach 169.4 GW by 2040 from 48.5 GW in 2019. The growth of the sector necessitates a re-evaluation of the environmental impacts of renewable energy on the continent to inform mitigation decisions. This study presents the first literature review of the life cycle assessments of renewable energy in Africa and gives an in-depth analysis of environmental issues that are specific to Africa's renewable energy sector. It performs a systematic assessment of literature on the topic, examines the state-of-the-art, and critically evaluates environmental impacts on the continent, implications of methodological choices, gaps, challenges, and compares the findings with other regions. Climate change has extensively been researched in the studies due to high policy priorities on decarbonisation. Other relevant impact categories such as resource depletion in non-closed loop systems, ecotoxicity from recycling emissions, or ecosystem degradation from landfill leachate are not fully explored despite the end-of-life being potentially a major burden for the continent. Choice of functional units and multifunctional processes give wide variations in the magnitude of environmental impacts for similar technologies and, therefore, have implications for decision-making. For example, similar biodiesel jatropha systems with energy- and mass-based functional units give a difference of about 16% in climate change potential. To ensure that life cycle assessment results apply to mitigation decisions in Africa, studies should consider methodological issues such as lack of transparency in inventories, incomplete coverage of life cycle stages and impact categories, and missing databases adapted for the African context.
... A low representativeness of environmental emissions (mainly caused by the decommissioning, waste disposal and some recycling processes) has been quantified in relation to the total emissions generated by the production (e.g., Constantino et al., 2018;Jia et al., 2020). This evaluation is generally attributed to: (i) the long lifetime of the solar PV modules (25 or 30 years), which has not On the other hand, and up to our knowledge, the first LCA studies applied for the environmental impact evaluation of these technologies appeared in the late-1970s, however, their generalized application as a standardized methodology was well-established during the last years Gerbinet et al., 2014). Most of these LCA studies have been reported in some reviews published in the period 2010-2020 (e.g., Azzopardi and Mutale, 2010;Sherwani and Usmani, 2010;Hsu et al., 2012;Lizin et al., 2013;Peng et al., 2013;Baharwani et al., 2014;Gerbinet et al., 2014;Nugent and Sovacool, 2014;Asdrubali et al., 2015;Bhandari et al., 2015;Aristizábal et al., 2016;Chatzisideris et al., 2016;Kim et al., 2016;Wong et al., 2016;Ibn-Mohammed et al., 2017;Wu et al., 2017a,b;Bracquene et al., 2018;Ludin et al., 2018;Lamnatou and Chemisana, 2019;Chowdhury et al., 2020). ...
... This evaluation is generally attributed to: (i) the long lifetime of the solar PV modules (25 or 30 years), which has not On the other hand, and up to our knowledge, the first LCA studies applied for the environmental impact evaluation of these technologies appeared in the late-1970s, however, their generalized application as a standardized methodology was well-established during the last years Gerbinet et al., 2014). Most of these LCA studies have been reported in some reviews published in the period 2010-2020 (e.g., Azzopardi and Mutale, 2010;Sherwani and Usmani, 2010;Hsu et al., 2012;Lizin et al., 2013;Peng et al., 2013;Baharwani et al., 2014;Gerbinet et al., 2014;Nugent and Sovacool, 2014;Asdrubali et al., 2015;Bhandari et al., 2015;Aristizábal et al., 2016;Chatzisideris et al., 2016;Kim et al., 2016;Wong et al., 2016;Ibn-Mohammed et al., 2017;Wu et al., 2017a,b;Bracquene et al., 2018;Ludin et al., 2018;Lamnatou and Chemisana, 2019;Chowdhury et al., 2020). ...
... Most of the environmental burdens come from the production of solar PV panels. According to some previous LCA studies applied to similar PV systems, the normalized GHG emissions estimated for the mc-Si PV system range between 20 and 90 gCO 2 -eq./kWh, and are much lower than those values previously reported by Gerbinet et al. (2014): ~150 gCO 2 -eq./kWh, and the harmonized maximum values reported by Louwen et al. (2016): ~143 gCO 2 -eq/kWh. ...
Article
A first life cycle assessment study for the evaluation of a grid-connected photovoltaic system in Mexico was carried out from a cradle-to-grave perspective. The photovoltaic system consists of 12 modules integrated with a multi-crystalline silicon technology with a southward inclination of 20°, a 2.5 kW inverter, and a total installed capacity of 3 kWp, which provides an annual average production of 1282 kWh/kWp with a performance factor of 0.75. This system was installed in a building located in Mexico City. Potential environmental impacts from this photovoltaic system were analysed in eleven categories. The life cycle results show that this technology is within the cleaner energy sources with least environmental impacts throughout its life span. The major environmental impacts were attributed to the production stage, and more specifically, to the manufacturing of materials for the solar modules (which include PV panels, solar cells, and wafers). The multi-crystalline silicon photovoltaic system evaluated in this study was also compared with three conventional photovoltaic generation systems based on different technologies (i.e., single-crystalline silicon, the amorphous silicon, and the copper-indium-selenium solar cells). From this life cycle assessment, it was found that the multi-crystalline silicon system almost systematically exhibits the lower environmental burdens in most of the impact categories (six out of the eleven), in comparison with other systems which present larger contributions of pollutants during their life span. Regarding to the carbon footprint, it was found that the photovoltaic technology with the lowest global warming potential was related to the multi-crystalline silicon system (47.156 g CO2-eq./kWh), whereas the greatest contribution (69.1 g CO2-eq./kWh) was attributed to the single-crystalline silicon system. By considering these environmental sustainability results, a better technological deployment might be achieved which may help to accelerate, and drive a massive use of solar energy resources towards a clean, sustainable and diversified energy future. Finally, the importance of mapping circular economy opportunities during recycling and waste disposal of materials, and the sustainability trade-offs of solar PV systems have been highlighted as crucial research areas and innovation opportunities for future LCA works.
... 3 Waste management and recycling of PV modules Photovoltaic technologies are considered to be a source of low-wastage energy, because of the small stream of waste created at the production stage of products and the fact that during the operation period it can be considered waste-free. Gerbinet et al. (2014) presented a review of life cycle analyses of photovoltaic panels and underlines the necessity to achieve further life cycle assessment, LCA, on photovoltaic panels, as many aspects are still in need of evaluation, such as the properties of electronic components of the panels (BOS components). Further analysis on PV's should be made because their environmental impacts are expected to decrease as a result of further improvements involving higher cell efficiencies, reduction in energy consumption during the modules production and also panels recycling. ...
... In this case, the results are expressed in relation to a reference, such as the mean impact on a European citizen. This can help in determining the categories that have the most impact, although normalization should be used with caution (Gerbinet et al., 2014). ...
... Reviews of PV life cycle assessment (LCA) have been published (Gerbinet et al., 2014;Sumper et al., 2011;Sherwani and Usmani, 2010;Peng et al., 2013). However, they often do not take into account the stage involving recycling and re-use of the silicon material. ...
Chapter
Greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane, trap heat and energy, thus preventing solar radiation from escaping back into space. As the quantity of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increases so does the trapped heat and corresponding global temperature. As a result, storms become more violent, droughts more prevalent, glaciers melt, and sea levels rise, to name but a few effects of a rapidly changing climate. These unfavorable climate changes observed for many years have provided an incentive for the development of renewable energy sources, in particular those technologies, that serve the production of electricity. The use of photovoltaic modules to convert solar radiation into electricity results in a reduction of harmful GHGs, characteristic of traditional fossil fuel technologies, and furthermore, leads to economic benefits and independence of energy supplies. Analyzing the complete life cycle of photovoltaic modules: the process of production, operation, and the recycling of solar cell panels and ancillary components, one can demonstrate obvious environmental benefits, justifying not only the costs of photovoltaic technology development, but also government's actions in support of solar panels. Depending on the technology used, the production phase of photovoltaic modules does burden the environment to varying degrees, but overall there are incomparable gains to be made by exploiting photovoltaic systems for electricity production. Waste management and the re-use of valuable materials can also significantly improve the final environmental balance. As the photovoltaic market is still growing, it is important at this stage, to assess the long-term impact of PV technology on the natural environment. In this chapter, the impacts of using photovoltaic solar modules for energy production on the natural environment, are discussed.
... The types of solar-panel I examined include crystalline silicon photovoltaics and thin layer photovoltaics. Crystalline silicon class panels -which are the most commonly used class -include a range of models that all utilize silicon, and thin layer panels, a more recently developed class that has a more heterogeneous range of models, uses a range of different materials across different model types (Gerbinet et al. 2014). ...
... Muhovich (2010) provided most of the information I found regarding the material composition of solar panels, though I cross-checked and supplemented this with information from The Solar Company (2016), De Gree (2016), IRENA (2016),Gerbinet et al. (2014), and the Renewable Energy Corporation (2017). ...
Thesis
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In this study I examine ecological modernization (EM) and ecologically unequal exchange (EUE) effects surrounding solar-panel and wind-turbine systems. EUE effects are analyzed by examining the material composition of these technologies, the top extractors of these materials, and socio-environmental disruption resulting from this extraction. Meanwhile, EM effects are analyzed in the examined countries by reviewing installed capacity for solar-panels and wind-turbines, as well as policy and regulatory arrangements that support implementation of these technologies. The results are used to assess the relationship between EM and EUE processes and the uses of EM and EUE theories, and to posit whether renewable energy implementation, and EM more broadly, without fundamental socioeconomic restructuring, is a sufficient path to sustainability. A trend was found, whereby developing countries tend to suffer the most socio-environmental disruption from material extraction for solar-panels and wind-turbines while exhibiting lower implementation of these technologies, and developed countries show opposite effects. This indicates that EUE effects constitute global solar-panel and wind-turbine systems, and that developed countries displace socio-environmental disruption from energy innovation onto developing countries. Critically assessing sustainable development and EM within the capitalist system, I conclude that universal sustainability is not possible within such a framework, and that instead a global non-growth, steady-state socio-economic framework is required, in which the costs and benefits of utilizing natural resources are distributed equitably.
... A number of Life cycle assessment (LCA) studies on PV systems have been carried out with respect to different stages their life cycle: (1) production/construction, (2) electricity production (i.e., operation), and (3) EoL (Vellini et al., 2017). Most of previous studies in the 1990s and early 2000s investigated the global warming potential (GWP) and energy efficiency indicators, such as energy payback time (EPBT), of various PV systems during their manufacturing and operation stages (Gerbinet et al., 2014;De, 2013). However, few studies have focused on the EoL management of PV panels in the past, and extensive environmental impacts (e.g. ...
... human health, resources, and ecosystem quality, etc.) have at last been taken into consideration since the 2010s. Gerbinet et al. (2014) compared the environmental impacts of different types of PV panels (i.e., mono-and poly-crystalline silicon (c-Si)), which occupies the majority (more than 80%) of the installed PV systems worldwide (Paiano, 2015), in different stages (i.e., cradle-to-grave) emphasizing the significant contribution during the EoL phase. Corcelli et al. (2018) and Ardente et al. (2019) demonstrated a comparative LCA on different recycling scenarios (i.e., high rate vs. low rate recovery) of PV panels to reflect the benefits of resource (e.g. ...
Article
An iodine-iodide system was investigated as an alternative lixiviant for HNO3 for leaching precious metals from the end-of-life c-Si photovoltaic (PV) cell. A series of batch experiments were conducted for the optimization of leaching kinetics and thermodynamic equilibrium followed by a life cycle assessment (LCA) using data from the experiments. The results showed that more than 95% of Ag and Al leached out within the first 5 min. The optimum conditions for equilibrium leaching were as follows: solid to liquid ratio of 1:10 for Ag (1:9 ml for Al), and I2 concentration of 0.35 M for Ag (0.3 M for Al), with I- concentration of 0.7 M. In addition, selective leaching of Ag could also be accomplished by adjusting the reaction pH to 9.6%, and 93% of reproducibility was achieved via the rejuvenation of the exhausted leaching solution, which can benefit the subsequent recovery process. The leaching efficiency of iodine-iodide system was nearly comparable to that of HNO3, and the environmental impacts of the two cycle of continuous process with rejuvenation of the iodine leaching solution can be effectively reduced especially in the acidification & eutrophication, respiratory effect, and mineral extraction categories with subsequent exclusion of the additional neutralization process.
... Various works present their own methodologies to estimate the CO 2 footprint [35,36,37,38]. In general, CO 2 emissions of diesel are calculated based on the fuel consumed, CO 2 emissions of PV, micro hydro, and battery storage are calculated based on the energy consumed. ...
... To avoid reliability issues, a minimum battery capacity of 500 kWh is assumed for the optimal search space. For the CO 2 emissions estimation, an emission factor α P V of 63 g/kWh was assumed based on [35]. This value was considered since it represents a high emission factor for ground-mounted PVs compared to diesel emissions. ...
Article
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Several remote communities have limited electricity access and are mainly dependent on environmentally damaging fossil fuels. The installation of microgrid networks and green energy initiatives are currently addressing this issue. Thus, this paper proposes the techno-economic assessment of a microgrid that comprises Photovoltaic (PV) arrays, a micro hydro turbine, and diesel generation. Two scenarios are evaluated considering the inclusion or not of diesel generation. This model is performed in HOMER. The results demonstrate that the best option in economics is to invest in a PV/Hydro/Diesel microgrid, resulting in an Net Present Cost (NPC) of 2.33M$, and a Cost of Energy (COE) of 0.194$/kWh. Furthermore, to address diesel price uncertainties, a sensitivity analysis was carried out based on three different projected diesel prices. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... In this regard, a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study can help to determine the most appropriate way the environmental impact and burdens for each process associated with the manufactured or operated BIPV. This determines the break-even point for the Energy Payback Time (EPBT) wherein the operated BIPV produces the same amount of energy that it took to manufacture and use it [8]. In this chapter, then, the different types of BIPV and the environmental performance as determined by the LCA are discussed in order to compare their environmental impacts. ...
... ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 are defined frameworks for carrying out an LCA study. ISO 14041, ISO 14042 and 14043 are the standards that should be followed in the four main stages of an LCA: goal and scope definition, inventory analysis, life cycle impact assessment, and life cycle interpretation, respectively [8,19,21]. The stages are shown in Fig. 1 [20,22,23]. ...
Chapter
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Solar power can be used as a clean and sustainable source of energy that can in turn be applied in many ways, including to buildings; solar power applied to a building can produce energy for use directly inside the building. Solar Photovoltaics, which are directly attached to the building, are called Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV). This type of Solar Photovoltaics is considered a main constructed layer of the building as it can replace the Façade, windows, or rooftops. Nevertheless, to manufacture BIPV, the manufacturing process consumes an abundance of energy and produces an extensive amount of greenhouse emissions. These energies and emissions are either directly related to the processes of manufacturing BIPV or they are indirectly related to it—through the fossil fuels burnt to produce the energy that manufactures BIPV. In this case, a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) will be conducted to quantify the emissions and waste associated with the manufacturing processes or the energy that is needed as an input to these processes. An LCA can be used to indicate all types of impact categories associated with the whole life cycle of the product, in this case BIPV. This chapter describe the environmental impact associated with the performance and the manufacturing of BIPV based on an LCA. Through a review of multiple types of studies, this chapter focuses on the environmental impact of the different types of material, like silicon and thin-films, used to manufacture BIPV. Different applications of BIPV are also considered as a means of assessing the performance of BIPV when applied to different layers of a building as well as the environmental impact performance when BIPV operates in different geographical locations. As a comparison, Energy Payback time (EPBT), which plays a key role in understanding the energy break-even point for the used BIPV, will be examined as well.
... LCA studies about PV technologies often focus on cells and modules instead of choosing to analyze other elements such as wiring, switches, mounting system, inverters, battery, and mounting hardware, also called the balance of system (BoS). These elements are often neglected but are critical parts of the PV electricity-generation system (Gerbinet et al., 2014). The development of more efficient PV ...
... BoS components are still not being incorporated in all LCA studies about PV technologies, but they have become more prevalent in recent studies (Gerbinet et al., 2014), particularly for Si-based technologies (Graebig et al., 2010;Ito et al., 2010;Sumper et al., 2011;Desideri et al., 2012;Perez et al., 2012;Stylos and Koroneos, 2014;Hou et al., 2016;Wu et al., 2017;and Luo et al., 2018). ...
... Fuel cell operation, PV modules and conventional natural gas heaters (in cases when cogeneration with CHP was not accounted for) were the main contributors of the operational equivalent emission fraction. For PV modules, the mean value between [9], and [20] for polycristaline Si panels was used. ...
... gCO 2 eq/kWh and 268.39 gCO 2 eq/kWh, respectively for the residential and industrial cases. Furthermore, even though conventional PV systems usually present equivalent emissions of 40 gCO 2 eq/kWh to 80 gCO 2 eq/kWh [9,20], if a natural gas heater is also used to supply the corresponding thermal demand for the residential consumer, total emission could rise up to 233.25 gCO 2 eq/kWh for such systems. Therefore, the proposed on-grid hybrid system proved to be an interesting alternative solution to other green energy systems by presenting relatively low pollutant emission to the environment when cogeneration is considered. ...
Article
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As global natural resources depletion and concern on emission of greenhouse gases intensify, the interest for low emission technologies and the use of renewable energy increased in the world. In this context, this paper aims to present an hybrid energy system for on-grid micro residential and industrial applications. The system is composed of a micro combined heat and power (CHP) unit, including a natural gas (NG) reformer coupled with proton-exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC), solar photovoltaic modules (PV) and a bank of batteries (B), connected to the grid through a bidirectional inverter. Different system configurations (PEMFC + PV + B, PEMFC + B, PEMFC + PV), with or without cogeneration of the heat from the CHP system, were investigated to calculate the required NG and electricity flows and assess the economic cost during 10 years of operation in an 2020–2040 horizon. The impact of fuel cell sizing and two electricity tariffs was also assessed for both applications. Afterwards, the cash flow in terms of net present value of a 20 years operation period was simulated within the Brazilian context, yielding estimated paybacks between 7 and 19 years for the simulated cases. Finally, an environmental impact analysis was carried out to investigate the total GHG emissions for some cases of interest in this work. The proposed system could reduce total emissions up to 31% when compared to the complete power and thermal supply by the Brazilian Electricity grid and natural gas heater The results showed that the proposed system were economically viable, relatively low-polluting and more efficient than traditional PV systems.
... According to reference [65], all parts of the BOS components' analyzed system should be characterized. The End-Of-Life (EoL) should be integrated into the study and thoroughly specified, given their significant impact on the results. ...
... Using varied evaluation approaches, a lack of or missing data at some stages of LCAs, and selecting different functional units result in a wide range of outcomes, complicating the comparison between studies [58,65]. The low number of panels that reached the decommissioning phase is the key reason for the end-of-life stage [90]. ...
... Then the work of Saïcha et al. have examined mainly EPBT and CO 2 emissions of PV technology. However, the work lacked assessing the panel's technical properties and the BOS components, and was only limited to PV panel, excluding other system components, and did not consider the emerging PV technologies, in addition, it was only limited to CO 2 emissions, ignoring other environmental parameters (Saïcha et al., 2014). Recently, Raghava et al. have accessed some solar energy technologies concluding that CdTe PVs and solar pond CSP have minimum GHGs emissions over the lifetime cycle. ...
... Some work has been performed on topics like the economic viabilities, efficiencies, and applications of the solar technologies in general T. et al., 2017;Abdul Salam, 2016;Shahjadi Hisan et al., 2018;C. D, 2020;Hafez et al., 2019), effects of a single element in a system like PV panels or a certain PV technology (Saïcha et al., 2014;L. et al., 2016;Nieves et al., 2014;V.a.C. ...
Article
The annual increases in global energy consumption, along with its environmental issues and concerns, are playing significant roles in the massive sustainable and renewable global transmission of energy. Solar energy systems have been grabbing most attention among all the other renewable energy systems throughout the last decade. However, even renewable energies can have some adverse environmental repercussions; therefore, further attention and proper precautional procedures should be given. This paper discusses in detail the environmental impacts of several commercial and emerging solar energy systems at both small- and utility-scales. The study expands to some of the related advances, as well as some of the essential elements in their systems. The approach follows all the stages, starting with the designs, then throughout their manufacturing, materials, construction or installation phases, and over operation lifetime and decommissioning. Specific solutions for most systems such as waste minimization and recycling are discussed, alongside with some technically and ecologically favorable recommendations for mitigating the impacts.
... Nevertheless, their studies were restricted merely to OPVs, without other technologies, and needed development on environmental viability [51]. In the same way, the study of [52] has analyzed mostly CO2 discharges and EPBT of PV technology. On the other hand, the analysis needed to evaluate the module's technical characteristics and the balance of system (BOS) devices was merely restricted to the PV module, without other system devices, and was not able to study the evolving PV technologies; furthermore, it was merely restricted to CO2 discharges, disregarding other environmental factors [52]. ...
... In the same way, the study of [52] has analyzed mostly CO2 discharges and EPBT of PV technology. On the other hand, the analysis needed to evaluate the module's technical characteristics and the balance of system (BOS) devices was merely restricted to the PV module, without other system devices, and was not able to study the evolving PV technologies; furthermore, it was merely restricted to CO2 discharges, disregarding other environmental factors [52]. Currently, the analysis of [53] regarding some of the studies on solar energy technologies reveals that solar pond CSP and CdTe PVs have the least possible GHGs discharges throughout their lifespan. ...
Article
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Presently, the world is undergoing exciting haste to install photovoltaic (PV) systems in industry, residential/commercial buildings, transportation, deserts, street lights, and many other applications. Solar photovoltaic energy systems are clean and reliable energy sources that are unlimited , unlike their fossil fuel counterparts. The energy market is rapidly growing globally with newly and cumulative installed capacities of about 37.6 GW and 139.6 GW, accounting for 53% and 55%, respectively, in 2017, making it one of the fastest-growing industries. The cumulative photo-voltaic installations are projected to have reached 600 GW worldwide and are projected to reach 4500 GW by 2050 because of the strategies and policies of many countries. In 2021, more than three-quarters of the developed countries are now home to one solar installation. This article evaluates a critical and extensive review of the contributions of solar photovoltaic systems to national development. The approach follows all steps, starting with capturing photovoltaics on the Earth's surface, then price reduction, load management, and socioeconomic impact of solar photovoltaic systems. From the study, it is found that the policies and strategies adopted by the leading countries, such as tax credits, capital subsidies, net-metering, VAT reduction, feed-in tariffs (FiTs), and renewable portfolio standards (RPS), have significantly helped in more installations. Additionally, the significant drop in photovoltaic module prices from 4731 $/W in 2010 to 883 $/W in 2020 has boosted the move for more installations. Based on the findings, approximately 10 million permanent employ-ments would be put in place by advancing solar power across the globe annually.
... D I V U L G A Ç Ã O C I E N T Í F I C A E T E C N O L Ó G I C A D O I F P B | N º 5 3 negativos relacionados a um produto, processo ou serviço (GERBINET; BELBOOM; LÉONARD, 2014;WU et al., 2017). Considerando a crescente demanda do uso de painéis fotovoltaicos e os potenciais impactos atribuídos, desde a sua produção até o momento do seu funcionamento, o desenvolvimento de ACVs é necessário para quantificar os impactos ambientais associados ao atendimento de demandas elétricas. ...
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p class="Normal1"> The Life Cycle Assessment is a methodology that studies the environmental aspects and the potential impacts associated with a product or service through the formulation of an inventory of resources. Among the various indicators that measure environmental impacts, the carbon footprint stands out for analyzing the greenhouse gas emissions derived from an activity, process or product. The objective of this work is to compare the carbon footprint of a conventional photovoltaic system and a semitransparentone, designed to meet an energy demand of 386 kWh/day. A higher carbon footprint was obtained for the conventional panel system, totaling 3623 kg CO 2 -eq/year, while the semitransparent system emitted 2726 kg CO 2 –eq/year. In both cases, photovoltaic cells and aluminum structures accounted for the greatest contribution to the carbon footprint, in addition to the significant contribution of solar glass. The emission factor was also calculated, associating the electric production capacity with the carbon footprint, obtaining 0.0257 kg CO 2 -eq/kWh for the conventional system and 0.0193 kg CO 2 -eq/kWh for the semitransparent system. From the carbon footprint viewpoint, the semitransparent system is the best option, with significantly lower emissions. </p
... The significant variance that is evident in the results concerning photovoltaic power plants is due to the consideration of different panel technologies (monocrystalline, polycrystalline silicon and Cd-Te), differences in the placement of the panels (on the roofs or walls of buildings, in fields) and differing inclination. According to this and other studies, the effectiveness of PV panels is influenced primarily by the technology used, the suitability of the site and the location of the panels [44,45]. The importance of the slope of the panel is also evidenced by the results of this study, from which it can be concluded that panels located on walls, i.e., in a vertical position, are significantly less effective than horizontally-positioned panels (on roofs or in fields). ...
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As both the human population and living standards grow, so does the worldwide electricity demand. However, the power sector is also one of the biggest environmental polluters. Therefore, options are currently being sought aimed at reducing environmental impacts, one of the potential tools for which concerns the use of life cycle assessment. This study, therefore, focuses on the most commonly used nonrenewable (black coal, lignite, natural gas and nuclear) and renewable sources (wind, hydro and photovoltaic) in the Czech Republic in terms of their construction, operation, and decommissioning periods. Environmental impacts are assessed via the use of selected impact categories by way of product environmental footprint methodology. The results highlight the potential environmental impacts associated with electricity generation for each of the primary energy sources. Black coal and lignite power plants were found to contribute most to the global warming, resource use, energy carriers and respiratory inorganics categories. On the other hand, the impact on water depletion and resource use, mineral and metals categories were found to be most significantly affected by the production of electricity from photovoltaic power plants. Finally, it is proposed that the results be employed to design scenarios for the future energy mix.
... Due to these trends, PV technology is the fastest growing electricity technology [18,19]. This is fortunate because PV has an excellent ecological balance sheet [20] and an established path to a sustainable future [21]. PV, which can be used as a distributed generation (DG) technology [22], also benefits the electrical system with (i) improved reliability [23][24][25], (ii) enhanced power quality [26], and (iii) reduced transmission and distribution losses [27]. ...
Article
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Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is now a profitable method to decarbonize the grid, but if catastrophic climate change is to be avoided, emissions from transportation and heating must also decarbonize. One approach to renewable heating is leveraging improvements in PV with heat pumps (HPs). To determine the potential for PV+HP systems in northern areas of North America, this study performs numerical simulations and economic analysis using the same loads and climate, but with local electricity and natural gas rates for Sault Ste. Marie, in both Canada and U.S. Ground-mounted, fixed-tilt, grid-tied PV systems are sized to match 100% of electric loads considering cases both with and without air source HPs for residences with natural gas-based heating. For the first time the results show North American residents can profitably install residential PV+HP systems, earning up to 1.9% return in the U.S. and 2.7% in Canada, to provide for all of their electric and heating needs. Returns on PV-only systems are higher, up to 4.3%; however, the PV capacities are less than half. These results suggest northern homeowners have a clear and simple method to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by making an investment that offers a higher internal rate of return than savings accounts, CDs and GICs in both countries. Residential PV and solar-powered heat pumps can be considered 25-year investments in financial security and environmental sustainability.
... Our repurposed and reuse approach is different than what is often discussed in recycling and Life-Cycle-Analysis, where a given technology is reprocessed and its composite materials are returned to their raw or base form. This more fundamental recycling has been discussed extensively in the literature [9]. This new re-use of PV modules is starting to gain interest, however, and is now considered a viable option for some PV applications, including engineering education [10]. ...
... The environmental profile of a solar module is a result of LCA, which enables the assessment and comparison of different technologies. LCA enables quantitative results to be expressed as different indicators, such as energy payback time (EPBT) or greenhouse gas emission [18]. Most of the LCA analysis deals with conventional flat-plate PV, e.g., [10]; however, due to the rapid development of concentrated photovoltaic technology, the environmental impact of CPV technologies has become an extensively studied topic. ...
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Photovoltaic systems represent a leading part of the market in the renewable energies sector. Contemporary technology offers possibilities to improve systems converting sun energy, especially for the efficiency of modules. The paper focuses on current concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) technologies, presenting data for solar cells and modules working under lab conditions as well as in a real environment. In this paper, we consider up-to-date solutions for two types of concentrating photovoltaic systems: high-concentration photovoltaics (HCPV) and low-concentration photovoltaics (LCPV). The current status of CPV solar modules was complemented by the preliminary results of new hybrid photovoltaic technology achieving records in efficiency. Compared to traditional Si-PV panels, CPV modules achieve greater conversion efficiency as a result of the concentrator optics applied. Specific CPV technologies were described in terms of efficiency, new approaches of a multijunction solar cell, a tracking system, and durability. The results of the analysis prove intensive development in the field of CPV modules and the potential of achieving record system efficiency. The paper also presents methods for the determination of the environmental impact of CPV during the entire life cycle by life cycle assessment (LCA) analysis and possible waste management scenarios. Environmental performance is generally assessed based on standard indicators, such as energy payback time, CO2 footprint, or GHG emission.
... This result is a consequence of a different level of irradiation in the analyzed area in Spain. Most of the energy consumption in this simulation was associated with the module production phase [36]. The typical LCA analysis is based on the life cycle diagram for the analyzed technology; an example of such LCA diagram is shown in Figure 1. ...
Article
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Photovoltaic panels (PV) are one of the most popular technological solutions used to produce green renewable energy. They are known as green technology, but by analyzing a life cycle of a common panel, we can find out that production of these panels is strictly associated with generation of a large waste stream. PV modules are constantly modified and, therefore, it is required to consider the impact of the applied materials on the environment during the whole lifecycle of the product. The most important aspect of the assessment of a life cycle of a photovoltaic module in the phase of decommissioning is material recycling. The process of material recycling is very difficult, due to the lamination used in the currently exploited technology. This paper presents the results of pyrolysis for a sample of a silicon module. The results of the presented research show a weight loss of 48.16 in case of the tested samples. This paper presents the outcome of a quantitative analysis of the content of polycyclic aromatic for liquid and concentrations of Br, Cl and F for a gaseous fraction of pyrolysis products. The goal of the research presented in the paper was to find the optimal parameters for thermal separation, as well as the influence of the energy consumption and materials separation efficiency on the final thermal efficiency of the process.
... The cut off-criteria used in this study coincide with the cut-off criteria in the used studies for the sub-systems [31,35,[47][48][49][50][51][52][53]; details are in Supplementary Materials Section S2. Figure 1 shows that some products need to be allocated. The plant produces a mix of hydrocarbons, namely PtL-kerosene, (e-)gasoline, and (e-)diesel. ...
Article
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Decarbonization of the aviation sector is crucial to reaching the global climate targets. We quantified the environmental impacts of Power-to-Liquid kerosene produced via Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis from electricity and carbon dioxide from air as one broadly discussed alternative liquid jet fuel. We applied a life-cycle assessment considering a well-to-wake boundary for five impact categories in-cluding climate change and two inventory indicators. Three different electricity production mixes and four different kerosene production pathways in Germany were analyzed, including two Direct Air Capture technologies, and compared to fossil jet fuel. The environmental impacts of Pow-er-to-Liquid kerosene varied significantly across the production pathways. E.g., when electricity from wind power was used, the reduction in CO2-eq. compared to fossil jet fuel varied between 27.6–46.2% (with non-CO2 effects) and between 52.6–88.9% (without non-CO2 effects). The re-duction potential regarding CO2-eq. of the layout using low-temperature electrolysis and high-temperature Direct Air Capture was lower compared to the high-temperature electrolysis and low-temperature Direct Air Capture. Overall, the layout causing the lowest environmental impacts uses high-temperature electrolysis, low-temperature Direct Air Capture and electricity from wind power. This paper showed that PtL-kerosene produced with renewable energy could play an im-portant role in decarbonizing the aviation sector.
... Hence, in addition to the compliance with relevant regulations, the appropriate EOL-PVPs management may offer a further sustainable solution to raw materials supply. As a consequence, the EOL-PVPs treatment became an extensively studied topic, generally addressed through the life cycle analysis (LCA) methodology [11][12][13][14][15][16]. ...
Article
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Photovoltaic panels were included in EU Directive as WEEE (Wastes of Electric and Electronic Equipment) requiring the implementation of dedicated collection schemes and end-of-life treatment ensuring targets in terms of recycling rate (80%) and recovery rate (85%). Photovoltaic panels are mainly made up of high-quality solar glass (70–90%), but also metals are present in the frames (Al), the cell (Si), and metallic contacts (Cu and Ag). According to the panel composition, about $72 per 100 kg of panels can be recovered by entirely recycling the panel metal content. The PhotoLife process for the treatment of end-of-life photovoltaic panels was demonstrated at pilot scale to recycle high value glass, Al and Cu scraps. A process upgrade is here reported allowing for polymer separation and Ag and Si recycling. By this advanced PhotoLife process, 82% recycling rate, 94% recovery rate, and 75% recoverable value were attained. Simulations demonstrated the economic feasibility of the process at processing capacity of 30,000 metric ton/y of end-of-life photovoltaic panels.
... They also realized that most studies are conducted on energy indices like the energy payback time (EPBT) index and climate changes like the CO 2 emission index. 19 Peng et al. reexamined the EPBT performance of the energy and the environmental effects of the solar PV systems through a complete revision in the amount of greenhouse emission released from PV panels and the years required for these panels to provide a specified amount of energy. They implemented LCA for five conventional systems, including single crystal (mono-Si), polycrystalline (multi-Si), amorphous silicon (a-Si), cadmium telluride thin film, and Copper-Indium-Gallium-selenium (CIS or CIGSSe) thin film. ...
Article
With the development of different generations of solar cell (photovoltaic) technologies, extensive research has been conducted to evaluate their performances, applications, and cost benefits. Despite these technologies being known as green technologies compared with fossil fuels, however, their environmental problems and damages have not been assessed and compared systematically in their whole life cycle. In this study, the environmental effects of different solar cell generations are assessed and compared using the life cycle assessment approach. Environmentally speaking, the results obtained from the software indicate that the first (polycrystalline) and third (transparent Perovskite) generation panels cause the greatest (1.43 × E⁻⁶ Daly) and least (4.56 × E⁻⁷ Daly) damage to human health, respectively. In addition, these two generations of photovoltaic panels have the most significant and least negative influence on the ecosystem with 2.18 × E⁻⁸ and 7.05 × E⁻¹⁰ Species.Yr, respectively. Regarding the environmental effect of damage to the resources, the third and second (cadmium telluride) panels have the least damage with 0.027 USD2013 and 0.0184 USD2013, respectively. The most negative midpoint effect is associated with the marine ecotoxicity of 0.101 kg 1.4-DCB by the second generation panels. Concerning global warming as the most critical consequence, all three panels also severely impact increasing the global warming index by 399, 164, and 134 (gCO2 eq), respectively. Based on perovskite technologies that are being rapidly evolved with extensive applications, replacing this technology with the current generations is expected due to its less environmental impacts. © 2022 The Authors. Energy Science & Engineering published by Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
... It should be noted that due the lack of data, the LCA does not consider specific aspects of nanoparticles toxicity to humans and the environment. Risk assessment studies carried out for fullerene show that this aspect has to be taken into account [54] and appropriate risk management measures applied during production, use and waste disposal phases [55]. ...
Article
A new composite heat transfer fluid consisting of tetralin and fullerene has been proposed for photovoltaic thermal hybrid solar harvesting. It features a unique absorption spectrum that is capable of sharply cutting off solar energy irradiated in the range of wavelength from 300 to 650 nm, making it a perfect candidate for simultaneous harvesting of both photovoltaic and thermal components of solar energy. The proposed composite revealed outstanding stability and facile synthesize root, which are the two main obstacles for applicability of nanofluids. It was shown experimentally that the additives of fullerene to tetralin do not alter significantly it’s thermophysical properties apart from viscosity that increases moderately. Besides, tetralin/fullerene solutions show similar thermohydraulics performance to that of pure tetralin in laminar flow regime or insignificantly lower in transient and turbulent flow regimes. A new figure of merit was proposed to analyze the thermohydraulics performance that consider not only exergy losses due to the kinetic energy dissipation, but also exergy losses associated with a finite temperature difference in the heat exchanger. As a result, the proposed figure of merit indicates the decrease of the heat transfer performance of tetralin/fullerene solutions that directly proportional to fullerene concentration. The performed simulation suggests that the total energy efficiency of flat-plate photovoltaic/thermal solar collector goes up to 60.4 % estimated according regulation (EU) No. 811/2013. Finally, life cycle analysis revealed further improvement root in view of environmental impact.
... It should be noted that due the lack of data, the LCA does not consider specific aspects of nanoparticles toxicity to humans and the environment. Risk assessment studies carried out for fullerene show that this aspect has to be taken into account [54] and appropriate risk management measures applied during production, use and waste disposal phases [55]. The similar pattern is shown for Cumulative Energy Demand ( Figure A2). ...
Preprint
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A new composite heat transfer fluid consisting of tetralin and fullerene has been proposed for photovoltaic thermal hybrid solar harvesting. It features a unique absorption spectrum that is capable of sharply cutting off solar energy irradiated in the range of wavelength from 300 to 650 nm, making it a perfect candidate for simultaneous harvesting of both photovoltaic and thermal components of solar energy. The proposed composite revealed outstanding stability and facile synthesize root, which are the two main obstacles for applicability of nanofluids. It was shown experimentally that the additives of fullerene to tetralin do not alter significantly it's thermo-physical properties apart from viscosity that increases moderately. Besides, tetralin/fullerene solutions show similar thermohydraulics performance to that of pure tetralin in laminar flow regime or insignificantly lower in transient and turbulent flow regimes. A new figure of merit was proposed to analyze the thermohydraulics performance that consider not only exergy losses due to the kinetic energy dissipation, but also exergy losses associated with a finite temperature difference in the heat exchanger. As a result, the proposed figure of merit indicates the decrease of the heat transfer performance of tetralin/fullerene solutions that directly proportional to fullerene concentration. The performed simulation suggests that the total energy efficiency of flat-plate photovoltaic/thermal solar collector goes up to 60.4 % estimated according regulation (EU) No. 811/2013. Finally, life cycle analysis revealed further improvement root in view of environmental impact.
... -PV waste modules can produce pollutants causing from the leaching of metals, such as lead and silver into the environment, affecting the water and soil (Fthenakis, 2000;Berger et al., 2010;Frisson et al., 2000;Choi et al., 2014;Gerbinet et al., 2014;Stamford & Azapagic, 2018;Zong et al., 2011). ...
Thesis
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Thailand, the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia, is now facing an increase of energy demand in the next 20 years by 80% due to its population and economic growths1 . Rather than increasing the consumption of oil and gas, this country has invested heavily in clean energy alternatives for electricity generation, one of which is photovoltaic (PV) solar. In early 2019, the first largest hydro-floating solar hybrid project was announced to be installed in Sirindhorn Dam, Ubon Ratchathani province, and currently, it is still in the midst of an installation process. This installation will be complete and the floating solar farm open for commercial operation in the middle of this year, 2021. With the life span of a solar panel is presumed to be 20-25 years2 , in the next few decades, these PV solar modules of this floating plant will be inefficient or unable to generate electricity anymore. This thesis, therefore, attempts to suggest recommendations for Thailand to manage PV solar waste properly. To do so, two SWOT analyses of two different countries - Thailand and China - will be used. China is another country chosen for this study due to its emerging characteristic to fight against pollution and starting to build a new floating solar plant in the abandoned mining area, Lianghuai3 . With the comparison, Thailand can draw lessons learned from China on how to manage PV solar waste in an environmentally friendly manner.
... When considering that electricity prices from non-renewable energy sources, in line with present trends, will continue to grow, while the prices of PV modules drop, we can expect an even shorter Discounted Payback Period of PV investments and lower risks involved [40]. On a macroeconomic level, another factor contributing to an increase in the efficiency of using solar energy is the anticipated decrease in the negative impact of panels on the environment, due to an increase in their performance, reduction in energy consumption during the modules production, and an improving recycling process [74]. ...
Article
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An increase in energy demand that is caused by fast economic development, a limited and constantly decreasing supply of traditional energy sources, as well as excessive environmental pollution that is caused by an increasing concentration of dust and gases in the atmosphere constitute the main factors that contribute to the ever-increasing interest in renewable sources of energy. The most important and promising renewable source of energy is thought to be solar energy. The aim of the paper is to assess the macroeconomic investment efficiency of photovoltaic installations in order to meet the demand for electric energy in single-family homes in Polish conditions. The conducted analysis comprises market characteristics and legal regulations concerning the sale of electric energy in Poland. Calculations were made for 320 variants that differed with regard to investment location, building orientation, and roof inclination. The results indicate that the most beneficial region for photovoltaic micro-installations, from a social perspective, is the south-east of and central Poland. The highest values of economic efficiency were achieved in the case of a southern roof inclination as well as a south-eastern and south-western building orientation. No big differences were observed in the economic investment efficiency for the panel inclinations. The calculated Discounted Payback Period, depending on the calculation method, equals 5.4 to 10 years. The results of the study confirm that the implemented support instruments for investments in photovoltaic installations producing energy for single-family house demand is economically viable.
... Intended for calculating environmental impacts of the production of such systems, the life cycle assessment (LCA) (International Organization for Standardization 2006) is the leading and most extensive methodology (European Commission 2003). The environmental burdens of some elements of these systems described herein have been extensively assessed, such as the manufacturing of PV panels in countries such as China, Germany and Spain (Sumper et al. 2011;Gerbinet et al. 2014;Yue et al. 2014;Fu et al. 2015;Hong et al. 2016;Xu et al. 2018;Lamnatou et al. 2019). Nonetheless, few studies have focused their interests only on the growing media used for soilless culture systems (Verhagen and Boon 2008;Warwick HRI 2009;Quantis 2012;Stucki et al. 2019;Vinci and Rapa 2019) because they are usually not assessed stand-alone and without relating them to plant management practices (e.g. ...
Article
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Purpose New environmental strategies are emerging for cities to become more self-sufficient, such as hydroponic crop production. The implementation of such systems requires materials that usually originate in countries with low labour costs and other legal regulations. To what extent could these strategies be shifting problems across the globe? To answer this question, we performed a comprehensive environmental and social assessment of the various extended soilless systems used to grow vegetables on urban roofs. Methods Three different growing media constituents were chosen for this study: perlite, peat and coir; which are produced in three countries, Turkey, Germany and the Philippines, respectively, and are imported to Spain. By using a life cycle assessment, we evaluated the environmental performances of the production and transport of these growing media. Additionally, we performed a social life cycle assessment at different levels. First, we used the Social Hotspots Database to analyse the constituents in aggregated sectors. Second, we performed a social assessment at the country and sector levels, and finally, we evaluated primary company data for the social assessment of the constituents through questionnaires given to businesses. Results and discussion The coir-based growing medium exerted the lowest environmental burden in 5 out of 8 impact categories because it is a by-product from coconut trees. In contrast, perlite obtained the highest environmental impacts, with impacts 44 to 99.9% higher than those of peat and coir, except in the land use. Perlite is a material extracted from open-pit mines that requires high energy consumption and a long road trip. Regarding the social assessment, peat demonstrated the best performance on all the social assessment levels. In contrast, coir showed the worst scores in the Social Hotspots Database and for the impact categories of community infrastructure and human rights, whereas perlite displayed the lowest performance in health and safety. Nevertheless, coir and perlite evidenced much better scores than peat in the impact subcategory of the contribution to economic development. Conclusions This study contributes to a first comparison of three imported growing media constituents for urban rooftop farming from environmental and social perspectives to choose the most suitable option. Peat appears to be the best alternative from a social perspective. However, from an environmental standpoint, peat represents a growing medium whose availability is aiming to disappear in Germany to preserve peatlands. Therefore, we identify a new market niche for the development of local growing media for future rooftop farming in cities.
... The emissions were lowered in terms of all the ReCiPe2016 categories, except for MRD and TET. The justification of the emissions increase in these two categories can be ascribed to the multicrystalline silicon photovoltaic panels: their installation affects MRD, and their usage affects TET, as previously observed in literature studies [40,41]. ...
Article
The life cycle assessment (LCA) of the production of polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP)/prednisolone (PDS) powders obtained by supercritical antisolvent (SAS) precipitation was performed to direct the production with a view to greater environmental sustainability. A 180 mg tablet containing the therapeutic dose of PDS (30 mg) was chosen as the functional unit, to which the emissions to air, water, and soil were reported. The analysis conducted with the aid of the SimaPro 9.1.1 software using primary data obtained by an Italian processor showed that the steps most impacting the environmental categories under study are the stabilization of the operating conditions, the injection step, and the washing step. An improved scenario aimed at lowering the impacts of these steps without altering the product was proposed, and a reduction of the global impact equal to 85.8 % is attainable.
... The PV visibility at the Paris Courthouse and La Seine Musicale guide the green regeneration of their neighbourhoods. It has to be noted that, although photovoltaic systems can currently be considered as "clean" and have a relative low environmental impact, depending on their installation location and local electricity mix, this might not always be the case, as many researchers have pointed out [2,14,56] and the same applies for their economic viability. ...
Article
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Featured Application: This work illustrates that world-class architecture can be coupled with building integrated (BIPV) or building applied (BAPV) photovoltaic (PV) technologies, which can significantly contribute to improve both the architectural quality and the energy efficiency, further promoting their diffusion in the built environment and as virtuous examples for a broader impact to society and investors. Abstract: This review study, framed in the Work group 4 "Photovoltaic in built environment" within the COST Action PEARL PV, CA16235, aims to examine applications of integrated and applied photovoltaic technologies on ten landmark buildings characterised by distinctive geometries, highlighting the aesthetics of their architecture and quality of PV integration based on a proposed set of seven criteria. The selected building samples cover a large design diversity related to the quality of PV systems integration into building envelope that could serve as a basis for general guidelines of best architectural and technological practice. After introducing the problem and defining the research methodology, an analysis of ten landmark buildings is presented, as representative models of aesthetics of their architecture, photovoltaic integration and implementation and energy performance. The study concludes with the main characteristics of photovoltaic integration on landmark buildings. The paper is intended to support both engineers and architects in comprehending the convergent development of contemporary architecture and photovoltaic technology, as well as the need for a closer collaboration, sometimes resulting in architectural masterworks that promote the diffusion of photovoltaics to the public.
... Beccali et al. (Beccali et al., 2014) assessed the life cycle performance of a solar thermal cooling systems in small scale and conventional plants assisted with PV panels. Gerbinet and Belboom (Gerbinet et al., 2014) reviewed the life cycle assessment of photovoltaic panels. Moncaster and Symons (Moncaster and Symons, 2013) provided a method and tool for cradle to grave embodied energy and environmental effects of buildings in the UK in compliance with the international standards. ...
Article
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In this research paper, energy, exergy, economic and environmental analysis of a building integrated photo-voltaic thermal system is investigated. To cover the aim of the research, the impact of a system as a retrofit solution for the existing office building has been evaluated in different scenarios through various key performance indicators including generated electricity, energy and exergy efficiency, greenhouse gas emission reduction and life cycle cost. The scenario development for the analysis is based on the variation between glass windows and photovoltaic module surface area on the outer façade. According to the results of the study, a scenario with the lowest photovoltaic module and highest glass windows surface area has been suggested due to the highest energy efficiency, lowest initial investment, lowest energy consumption and emission for manufacturing. Besides, a scenario with the highest photovoltaic module and zero glass windows surface area has been suggested because of the highest lifetime generated and avoided energy and emission reduction, lowest payback time and greenhouse gas rate as well as highest life cycle revenue. In conclusion, a scenario with the highest photovoltaic module surface area with a payback time of 1.58 years and a life cycle revenue of 55,157 (USD) has been suggested as a feasible retrofit measure as a result of the energy, exergy, economic and environmental analysis.
... LCA has been widely applied to different electricity generation technologies and systems [32][33][34][35]. Variability among results and variability of data for different electricity power technologies has been observed, as electric power technologies differ vastly in terms of technology, capacity, efficiency, materials, lifetime, input fuel types, operation, maintenance, among other aspects [36]. ...
Article
Electricity is the main energy carrier in today's society and plays a vital role in a sustainable future. Based on the Ecuadorian experience, the goal of this study is to analyze the environmental performance of current and forecasted scenarios of electricity generation and supply using life cycle methods, as a basis to discuss the appropriateness of current policy strategies towards a decarbonized future. The environmental impacts of the electricity mix are dominated by the emissions generated by fossil fuels burning during electricity generation. Results show that increasing the share of hydroelectricity decreases the environmental impacts per kWh considerably, but the environmental performance of net electricity generated in the country is also shaped by the growing energy demand for electricity. The global warming potential of net electricity generation is from 12 to 20 times higher by 2050 over 2016 levels for all scenarios. National policies on energy sustainability will not mitigate the Ecuadorian electricity environmental impacts, due to the growing demand for electricity. Moreover, there are risks to the energy security of Ecuador in the future, as fossil resources scarcity is expected, and climate change uncertainties may pose challenges to the future harnessing of hydropower. Targeting GHG reductions must address the challenge of demand reduction. Furthermore, policy focused on climate change could potentially lead to adverse consequences in other areas: decarbonization alone does not tell the whole story of the requirements for a transition to sustainability.
... Using LCA analyses, the embodied energy for the energy payback time (EPBT) is one indicator of the sustainability of PV panels. The review paper [19] summarizes various LCA studies that have been conducted in different countries for different types of solar panels. The average EPBT is about two to four years but varies between 1.45 [20] and 7.4 years [21]. ...
Article
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Almost all solutions addressing global warming and sustainable development depend on CO2 emission reductions from increased Photo-Voltaic (PV) power production. Despite the recent growth in PVinstallation in residential and larger-scale settings, deployments of solar panels will continue to accelerate over the near future, spurred by several factors. These include (i) the decrease in panel costs because of improvements in basic technology as well as manufacturing and scale efficiencies, (ii) the promotion of the technology by governments through subsidies for initial installations, (iii) the increasing conversion efficiency of solar panels, and in some cases, (iv) the increase in power costs because of a cessation of low-cost, high-emission generation methods. It is acknowledged that not much attention has been devoted to the end-of-life options for solar panels. The life of most commercially available panels is stated to exceed twenty years, and the lack of urgency in finding solutions may in part be attributed to the anticipated delay by which solutions are thought to be needed. In this paper it is demonstrated that based on economic considerations and recent trends of costs and technology improvements, it may be optimal to replace existing panels in as few as seven years. Thus, the “tsunami” of end-of-life solar panels may happen much sooner than anticipated, heightening the urgency for finding end-of-life solutions for solar panels. The analysis in this paper can also be used to evaluate the effects of subsidies for PV installations.
... It does not produce CO 2 emissions at the point of electricity production [15][16][17], since there is a carbon cost associated with the other stages of its life cycle. Currently, many countries have been forced to switch to SE or other alternative sources of energy [18], even though their environmental impacts are still not fully determined [19]. ...
Article
Synanthropic vegetation occurs at sites of photovoltaic power plants, where vegetation management is typically ignored, and can have adverse effects on photovoltaic panels as they increase fire hazards. Most scientific papers related to the installation and operation of solar power plants do not address the impact of photovoltaic power plants on vegetation and the associated fire hazards; grasslands, where photovoltaic power plants are usually located, have abundant grass that is highly flammable. This study was conducted in the South Moravian region of the Czech Republic to monitor and quantify the occurrence of plant species at sites where two different types of photovoltaic panels were installed. It was hypothesized that different types of photovoltaic panels are associated with different types of vegetation. Vegetation was assessed using phytocoenological relevés. The vegetation was controlled by grazing sheep and mowing around photovoltaic panels. The results of this study indicated that stationary photovoltaic panels create favourable conditions for species that increase fire hazards. Fire hazards can be reduced using grazing or mowing and removal of biomass. Using rotating photovoltaic panels, combined with sheep grazing, is more effective for promoting vegetation that reduces the chances of fire. This study highlights that photovoltaic power plants represent a renewable and sustainable energy source; however, different types of photovoltaic panels are associated with different vegetation types. To eliminate fire hazards, it is necessary to employ suitable methods of vegetation management (e.g., grazing by animals). Furthermore, combining an appropriate method of vegetation management with rotating photovoltaic panels will further reduce fire hazards.
... In general, crystallin silicon is the most spread used type in PV industry, due to the deep knowledge developed around it. Modules efficiency is within the range of 12-16%, exceptions depend on several factors [13]. ...
Article
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Photovoltaic (PV) panels installation has become one of the major technologies used for energy production worldwide. Knowledge and competitive prices are the main reasons for the spread usage and expanded exploiting of PV systems. Accordingly, this creates several challenges for manufacturers and customers, mainly, the quality of PV panels to withstand environmental conditions during service lifetime. Hence, the quality of PV panels is a vital aspect. By thinking of PV power plants, it appears that some factors should be considered, like the developing microcracks (µcracks). An issue like that increases the chances of having power loss during the operation phase. Notably, µcracks develop in different shapes and orientations; the variation depends on what causes them. This study is a presentation and summary of data collected from different projects in Jordan to describe the effect of each µcracks shape on power loss, aiming to give decision makers an indication to decide whether to replace the faulty panels or not, depending on their own conditions and projects sizes. Hence, in this study, it was found that the µcracks have impacted power loss differently and recorded power reduction of percentages of 0.82-3.21% for poly-crystalline technology. Variation in power degradation depends on the module situation; whether it is stocked in facility or operated on-site. In the mono-crystalline technology case, the power losses varied between 0.55% and 0.9%, with the exception of some samples from both technologies that have effects other than microcracks, which affected power severely. Furthermore, a general overview is provided for µcracks before installation.
... To understand the impact of encapsulation, this chapter describes the current stateof-the-art of crystalline photovoltaic module production, recycling and reuse. Production and recycling are the processes of the life cycle that are decisive for the environmental impact [16]. The reuse process is one way to extend the lifetime of the modules and therefore has a positive effect on the environmental impact [17]. ...
Article
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In times of climate change and increasing resource scarcity, the importance of sustainable renewable energy technologies is increasing. However, the photovoltaic (PV) industry is characterised by linear economy structures, energy-intensive production, downcycling and little sustainability. One starting point for sustainable technologies is offered by the circular economy with its circular design principles. One problematic aspect of the design of crystalline PV modules is the encapsulation. In particular, the encapsulation avoids high-value recycling or the remanufacturing of modules, which could close loops and extend the lifetime of the products. For this reason, this paper provides an overview of the current state of encapsulation methods regarding production, materials and recycling. In addition, the current state of sustainability research in the photovoltaic sector is presented using the VOSviewer tool. Furthermore, alternative encapsulation technologies are discussed and compared in terms of performance and sustainability. The current encapsulation method using ethylene vinyl acetate as the encapsulation material offers major disadvantages in terms of performance and recyclability. Alternatives are the thermoplastic material polyolefin and the alternative structure of the NICE technology. Overall, however, research should focus more on sustainability and recyclability. Alternative module structures will be a decisive factor in this context.
... La electricidad necesaria en el proceso de producción de biofertilizantes (2,25 kWh) no es suficiente para compensar los impactos ambientales del ciclo de vida de los paneles fotovoltaicos. Esta situación está de acuerdo con los resultados presentados en otros estudios [11]. ...
Article
A biofertilizer production process from waste fats is analyzed through Life Cycle Assessment. The stages included in the assessment were: storage of raw material, anaerobic digestion with biogas combustion, and composting with Eisenia foetida. The objective was to identify the environmental impacts of the different stages and propose alternatives to minimize them. The functional unit was “ the production of 120 kg of biofertilizer”. The inventory data was provided by the enterprise operating the process. Data regarding electricity generation were obtained from official national information. The method to evaluate the environmental impacts was CML (baseline) by using the software openLCA. The results showed that the “Compost” stage contributes the most with the environmental impact. This behavior is due to the use of electricity for pumping water and the fuel used in the aeration of composting. “Anaerobic digestion” presents an environmental load mainly due to the pumping of materials to other stages. The most significant effect is on the category “Marine aquatic ecotoxicity”. The reason for this situation is linked to the life cycle of the obtention of electricity and diesel. After that, some alternatives to minimize the environmental impacts are identified: i) to replace fossil fuels by biodiesel, ii) to incorporate solar energy since it receives high radiation. Replacement of biodiesel improves the environmental performance of the process, and the use of solar energy does not contribute to reducing the environmental load of the process. Keywords: wastes revalorization, cleaner production, renewable energy, environmental impact, industrial bioprocesses.
Article
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Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are composed of modules and batteries characterized by depreciable, short lifespans. A survey was carried out to ascertain the level of awareness of the management of used PV modules in developing countries. Even though the respondents are aware of the environmental and health risks of the chemical components of the modules, nothing is being done presently to recycle or plan for the management of the items at end-of-life (EoL) period in developing countries. Whereas PV modules at EoL are being reprocessed by recycling in developed countries like the EU, it is not being considered as a health and environmental challenge, as for other electronic wastes in developing countries. Herein, the status and ethical challenges of PV waste generation in developing countries are discussed. Data from a structured survey instrument are obtained, analyzed, and discussed for determining the precursory method to avoid PV wastes in developing countries. It is observed that soon when most installations will be decommissioned, the developing nations will begin to experience a huge collection of PV wastes like other electronic gadgets and be exposed to the dangers of electronic waste pollution if necessary legislative programs are neglected.
Article
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Solar photovoltaic (PV) energy technology can play a key role in decreasing the amount of carbon emissions associated with electrical energy production, while also providing an economically justifiable alternative to fossil fuel production. Solar energy technology is also extremely flexible in terms of the size and siting of technological development. Large scale PV farms, however, require access to large tracts of land, which can create community-scale conflict over siting solar energy development projects. While previous scholarship offers frameworks for understanding the mechanisms at play in socio-technological system transitions, including the renewable energy transition, those frameworks fail to center community priorities, values, and concerns, and therefore often do not provide an effective means of addressing community conflict over solar siting. This paper provides a conceptual exploration of how a proposed framework can guide decision making for solar development across multiple scales and settings, while also illuminating the potential barriers and bottlenecks that may limit the potential of solar energy development to occur in scales and forms that receive community acceptance and at the pace necessary to address the greenhouse gas emissions currently contributing to the rapidly changing global climate.
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Nanosized semiconductors have been used as active sensitizers for the application of quantum dot-sensitized solar cells (QDSSCs). This type of solar cell has gained much research interest in the past few years due to the excellent optical properties of the semiconductor sensitizers and high efficiency of the solar cells. Generally, QDSSCs work on the same principle as the dye-sensitized solar cell where quantum dot (QD) sensitizers such as semicondutor CdS or CdSe are used instead of the usual inorganic dye sensitizers. To date, QDSSCs have reached a power conversion efficiency of over 13%. However, most of the reported high-efficiency QDSSCs are Cd or Pb based. To elevate the application of emerging solar cell technologies in the mainstream photovoltaic market, a low-cost, stable, and nontoxic material is crucial for the development of solar cell modules. Nontoxic QD sensitizers are usually called lead-free or cadmium-free materials. In this chapter, “green” sensitizers are reviewed and discussed. The “green” materials that have been adopted as sensitizers in QDSSCs include Sn- and Bi-based compounds. Although the performance of “green” QDSSCs such as Ag2S and Bi2S3 QDSSCs are not as high as that of CdS- or CdSe-based QDSSCs, their performance can be enhanced with the materials engineering of ternary and quaternary QD compounds and passivation layers, to name a few. The effect of these techniques will be discussed in the context of performance and fabrication techniques.
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This study presents a comprehensive framework for evaluating renewable and non-renewable power plants' performance using the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and emergy analysis. The emergy analysis is used to consider the free ecosystem services in the sustainability of the systems as a supplement to the LCA. The results indicate that the wind and photovoltaic power plants have the best performance in terms of the LCA analysis, while the wind and combined cycle power plants have the highest emergy sustainability index. The best scenario is chosen under a two-objective optimization problem, including the single score and emergy sustainability as objective functions. Here, the wind power plant is the most interesting option while the combined cycle power plant with CO2 capture is the least interesting alternative. In this study, a novel framework is developed to assess the Cost of Avoided Carbon emissions (CACe) using the integrated LCA-emergy analysis for the combined cycle power plant in which its value is evaluated to be about $151.65/ton of CO2. Eventually, an uncertainty analysis is performed on the solar transformities using Monte Carlo simulation. The framework presented in this paper provides insights to increase power plants' sustainability for managers and authorities.
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Energy storage (ES) is seen as the key to unlocking the true potential of renewable generation as it potentially supports their integration into the grid by providing capability for services such balancing and frequency regulation. It also has the potential to reduce peak power demand reduction (a form of arbitrage) and this service will be important for distribution companies as it frees capacity on the grid. The first part of this study presents an energy management strategy (EMS) that reduces the peak power drawn from the grid by a community of 60 homes using ES and local generation (in this case photovoltaic panels (PVs)). The EMS is tested on hundreds of cases and shows an average yearly peak reduction of around 30% in the best cases. The second part of the paper tests the economic viability and greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions of the cases explored and shows that trade-offs exist between electricity supply costs, peak power reduction, and life cycle GHG reductions. PV generation provides a significant reduction in GHG emissions but makes little contribution to reducing peak demand from the grid. In contrast, community energy storage (in batteries) is effective at reducing peak demand, but at significant additional costs, and may result in a modest increase in GHG emissions due to emissions associated with battery manufacture and roundtrip efficiency. Future cost projections for 2040 for PV and battery, together with longer a battery cycle life, show that considerable reductions in the cost of community electricity generation and storage can be made to encourage the management of peak grid demand.
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University field stations are located off site from the main campuses and frequently in a natural setting, providing opportunity for students, faculty, and the public to engage with-and appreciate-local ecosystems. Their missions usually encompass the three cornerstones of environmental research, education, and outreach/community engagement, which go hand-in-hand with understanding and furthering sustainability. University field stations enhance environmental sustainability by helping to preserve a natural setting for coming generations, fostering research and monitoring of local ecosystems and their component biodiversity, and training the next generation and citizen scientists for field and laboratory work. Here we provide an example of how we are addressing sustainability through growth of the Lake Erie Center, a mid-sized university center with modest funding and staff that is located at the heart of land-water issues of runoff, sedimentation, algal blooms, legacy contaminants, and habitat loss facing the world's largest freshwater ecosystem of the Laurentian Great Lakes. We have networked our mission by building an Environmental Science Learning Community, which brings together faculty, students, educators, agencies, stakeholders, and the public to work towards the common goal of improving land-lake ecosystem services. This background has allowed us to rapidly respond to the August 2014 “Toledo Water Crisis” in which the Lake Erie water supply to 500,000 local citizens was contaminated by the algal toxin microcystin, resulting in a “do not drink” health advisory. The Lake Erie Center’s strategic location, both geographically and scientifically, has enhanced our effective education, research, and community engagement programs.
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This work focuses on the numerical simulation of an on-grid hybrid combined heat and power (CHP) system to meet small residential demands, using natural gas and solar energy. The system includes a natural gas reformer, a proton exchange membrane fuel cell (FC), photovoltaic panels (PV) and batteries connected to the grid by a bidirectional inverter. The impact of four parameters in the economic viability are investigated: number of consumers, electric and natural gas tariffs evolution, reverse metering factor and configuration of the system (energy sources, with or without storage). The results showed that the system can feed up to 4 consumers without significantly purchasing energy from the grid. Also, the electric tariffs exert more influence than natural gas tariffs over the performance of the system in terms of net present value. Dealing with configuration aspect, the FC + PV configuration provided earlier payback predictions, since fewer equipment substitutions were required. Reverse metering factor impact on system’s final profit and payback estimation was verified just slight. As results of environmental analysis conducted for the operation of the system, it was shown that emissions as low as 276.5 gCO2eq/kWh are achievable for the FC + PV configuration with cogeneration, meaning a 61.5% reduction in comparison with gas microturbines technology.
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The Solaire Building has the first façade building‐integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) array in New York City. This paper presents the life cycle impacts of the Solaire BIPV and extrapolates its performance to other façade systems. Engineering diagrams, detailed material inventories and 5 years of irradiation and actual performance data in 15‐min intervals offer insights into current BIPV construction and performance. The Solaire BIPV employs waste‐stream monocrystalline silicon wafers. Correspondingly, zero energy input was allocated to this BIPV from wafer production, resulting to a very low energy payback time (EPBT) and global warming potential burden (0.8 years and −10.2 g CO2/kWh, respectively). A negative EPBT results from subtracting the impact of the thermally and structurally equivalent concrete and brick wall that the BIPV array replaced. Data from current photovoltaic‐dedicated Si wafer supply were also used; these resulted with an EPBT of 3.8 years and a global warming potential of 61 g CO2/kWh. The performance ratio and EPBT of the Solaire system were compared with those in the International Energy Agency Photovoltaic Power Systems Task 2 inventory database. The drawback of façade BIPV is its vertical orientation, receiving lower incident irradiation than rooftop and ground installations. Nevertheless, BIPV offers two main advantages over such installations: it does not require any ‘virgin’ land for its operation, and it replaces structural units, thus avoiding the cost, embodied energy and corresponding emissions related to those. We detail herein how the replacement of traditional cladding materials can offset the performance drawback of BIPV, in terms of environmental burden and EPBT. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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This paper presents the preliminary results of an environmental evaluation carried out by the application of Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), to a new method proposed for managing the end of life of thin film photovoltaic panels that is being developed by a company leader in design and installation of photovoltaic solutions. The new method is being developed in an experimental test facility established by the company for implementing a series of mechanical and hydro mechanical treatments to thin film panels at the end of their life before the ultimate material recovery phase.The main innovation of the method consists in the elimination of the thermal treatments and the reduction of chemicals needed for recovering valuable materials, in favor of mechanical processes. The results demonstrate that the mechanical treatments used in the pre-treatment phase of the module has a positive effect in almost all the damage categories defined in the LCA and contribute significantly to the reduction of the global warming and the carbon footprint of the photovoltaic technology.
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In this paper we argue for a typology of various information-structural func- tionsin terms of three privative features: (topic), (focus) and (contrast) (seealsoVallduv´õ and Vilkuna 1998, Molnar 2002, McCoy 2003, and Giusti 2006). Aboutness topics and contrastive topics share the feature (topic), new-information foci and contrastive foci share the feature (focus), and contrastive topics and contrastive foci share the feature (contrast). This typology is supported by data from Dutch (where only contrastive ele- ments may undergo A'-scrambling), Japanese (where aboutness topics and contrastive topicsmust appear sentence-initially), and Russian(where the new-information foci and contrastive foci share the same underlying position).To the best of our knowledge, there are no generalizations over information-structural functions that do not share one of the features adopted here.
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This study compares the environmental impacts of a polycrystalline photovoltaic (PV) module and a wind turbine using the life cycle assessment (LCA) method. This study models landfill disposal and recycling scenarios of the decommissioned PV module and wind turbine, and compares their impacts to those of the other stages in the life cycles. The comparison establishes that the wind turbine has smaller environmental impacts in almost all of the categories assessed. The disposal stage can become a major contributor to the environmental impacts, depending on disposal scenarios. Recycling is an environmentally efficient method, because of its environmental benefits derived from energy savings and resource reclaimed. The end-of-life recycling scenario for a wind turbine has a significant part on the environmental impacts and should not be ignored. However, many factors also influence the degree to which recycling can be beneficial. With the wind turbine recycling scenario, when large quantities of waste are recycled, the potential savings can be quite large, while with the PV module, small quantities of recycled waste mean that the benefits of recycling are not fully reaped.
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Amorphous silicon (a-Si:H)-based solar cells have the lowest ecological impact of photovoltaic (PV) materials. In order to continue to improve the environmental performance of PV manufacturing using proposed industrial symbiosis techniques, this paper performs a life cycle analysis (LCA) on both conventional 1-GW scaled a-Si:H-based single junction and a-Si:H/microcrystalline-Si:H tandem cell solar PV manufacturing plants and such plants coupled to silane recycling plants. Both the energy consumed and greenhouse gas emissions are tracked in the LCA, then silane gas is reused in the manufacturing process rather than standard waste combustion. Using a recycling process that results in a silane loss of only 17% instead of conventional processing that loses 85% silane, results in an energy savings of 81,700 GJ and prevents 4400 tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere per year for the single junction plant. Due to the increased use of silane for the relatively thick microcrystalline-Si:H layers in the tandem junction plants, the savings are even more substantial – 290,000 GJ of energy savings and 15.6 million kg of CO2 eq. emission reductions per year. This recycling process reduces the cost of raw silane by 68%, or approximately $22.6 million per year for a 1-GW a-Si:H-based PV production facility and over $79 million per year for tandem manufacturing. The results are discussed and conclusions are drawn about the technical feasibility and environmental benefits of silane recycling in an eco-industrial park centered around a-Si:H-based PV manufacturing plants.
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Purpose The main goal of the paper is to carry out the first implementation of sustainability assessment of the assembly step of photovoltaic (PV) modules production by Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA) and the development of the Life Cycle Sustainability Dashboard (LCSD), in order to compare LCSA results of different PV modules. The applicability and practicability of the LCSD is reported thanks to a case study. The results show that LCSA can be considered a valuable tool to support decision-making processes that involve different stakeholders with different knowledge and background. Method The sustainability performance of the production step of Italian and German polycrystalline silicon modules is assessed using the LCSD. The LCSD is an application oriented to the presentation of an LCSA study. LCSA comprises life cycle assessment (LCA), life cycle costing and social LCA (S-LCA). The primary data collected for the German module are related to two different years, and this led to the evaluation of three different scenarios: a German 2008 module, a German 2009 module, and an Italian 2008 module. Results and discussion According to the LCA results based on Ecoindicator 99, the German module for example has lower values of land use [1.77 potential disappeared fractions (PDF) m2/year] and acidification (3.61 PDF m2/year) than the Italian one (land use 1.99 PDF m2/year, acidification 3.83 PDF m2/year). However, the German module has higher global warming potential [4.5E–05 disability-adjusted life years (DALY)] than the Italian one [3.00E−05 DALY]. The economic costs of the German module are lower than the Italian one, e.g. the cost of electricity per FU for the German module is 0.12 €/m2 compared to the Italian 0.85 €/m2. The S-LCA results show significant differences between German module 2008 and 2009 that represent respectively the best and the worst overall social performances of the three considered scenarios compared by LCSD. The aggregate LCSD results show that the German module 2008 has the best overall sustainability performance and a score of 665 points out of 1,000 (and a colour scale of light green). The Italian module 2008 has the worst overall sustainability performance with a score of 404 points, while the German module 2009 is in the middle with 524 points. Conclusions The LCSA and LCSD methodologies represent an applicable framework as a tool for supporting decision-making processes which consider sustainable production and consumption. However, there are still challenges for a meaningful application, particularly the questions of the selection of social LCA indicators and how to weigh sets for the LCSD.
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Together with 11 European and US photovoltaic companies an extensive effort has been made to collect Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) data that represents the status of production technology for crystalline silicon modules for the year 2004. These data can be used to evaluate the environmental impacts of photovoltaic solar energy systems. The new data covers all processes from silicon feedstock production via wafer- and cell- to module manufacturing. All commercial wafer technologies are covered, i.e multi- and mono-crystalline wafers as well as ribbon technologies. For monocrystalline silicon wafer production further improvement of the data quality is recommended.
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Goal, Scope and Background This paper describes the modelling of two emerging electricity systems based on renewable energy: photovoltaic (PV) and wind power. The paper shows the approach used in the ecoinvent database for multi-output processes.Methods Twelve different, grid-connected photovoltaic systems were studied for the situation in Switzerland. They are manufactured as panels or laminates, from mono- or polycrystalline silicon, installed on facades, slanted or flat roofs, and have a 3kWp capacity. The process data include quartz reduction, silicon purification, wafer, panel and laminate production, supporting structure and dismantling. The assumed operational lifetime is 30 years. Country-specific electricity mixes have been considered in the LCI in order to reflect the present situation for individual production stages. The assessment of wind power includes four different wind turbines with power rates between 30 kW and 800 kW operating in Switzerland and two wind turbines assumed representative for European conditions – 800 kW onshore and 2 MW offshore. The inventory takes into account the construction of the plants including the connection to the electric grid and the actual wind conditions at each site in Switzerland. Average European capacity factors have been assumed for the European plants. Eventually necessary backup electricity systems are not included in the analysis.Results and Discussion The life cycle inventory analysis for photovoltaic power shows that each production stage may be important for specific elementary flows. A life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) shows that there are important environmental impacts not directly related to the energy use (e.g. process emissions of NOx from wafer etching). The assumption for the used supply energy mixes is important for the overall LCIA results of different production stages. The allocation of the inventory for silicon purification to different products is discussed here to illustrate how allocation has been implemented in ecoinvent. Material consumption for the main parts of the wind turbines gives the dominant contributions to the cumulative results for electricity production. The complex installation of offshore turbines, with high requirements of concrete for the foundation and the assumption of a shorter lifetime compared to onshore foundations, compensate the advantage of increased offshore wind speeds.Conclusion The life cycle inventories for photovoltaic power plants are representative for newly constructed plants and for the average photovoltaic mix in Switzerland in the year 2000. A scenario for a future technology helps to assess the relative influence of technology improvements for some processes in the near future (2005-2010). The differences for environmental burdens of wind power basically depend upon the capacity factor of the plants, the lifetime of the infrastructure, and the rated power. The higher these factors, the more reduced the environmental burdens are. Thus, both systems are quite dependent on meteorological conditions and the materials used for the infrastructure.Recommendation and Perspective Many production processes for photovoltaic power are still under development. Future updates of the LCI should verify the energy uses and emissions with available data from industrial processes in operation. For the modelling of a specific power plant or power plant mixes outside of Switzerland, one has to consider the annual yield (kWh/kWp) and if possible also the size of the plant. Considering the steady growth of the size of wind turbines in Europe, the development of new designs, and the exploitation of offshore location with deeper waters than analysed in this study, the inventory for wind power plants may need to be updated in the future.
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The various detrimental environmental and health effects of conventional electricity generation have long been recognized. Renewable technologies offer the opportunity for reducing such impacts, but, during their entire life cycle, their use is not without effects. Indeed, some major European and Australian studies portrayed photovoltaic systems as causing significant life-cycle environmental and health impacts, due to the fossil energy used in the production of cell and module materials. However, the most recent studies on the life-cycle impacts of c-Si and thin film photovoltaics show that they are drastically lower than the ones earlier reported. Such improvements reflect the more effective use of material, thinner layers, improvements in the balance-of-systems components and installation, frameless modules, and higher conversion efficiencies. This paper summarizes a comparison of the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from the life-cycle of PV, nuclear, fossil and biomass electricity generation in the U.S
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High impact publications recently depicted PV technologies as having higher external environmental costs than those of nuclear energy and natural-gas-fueled power plants. These assessments are based on old data and unbalanced assumptions, and they illustrate the need for LCA data describing the continuously improving photovoltaic systems and the inclusion of social benefits in this comparison.
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Together with a number of PV companies an extensive effort has been made to collect Life Cycle Inventory data that represents the current status of production technology for crystalline silicon modules. The new data cover all processes from silicon feedstock production to cell and module manufacturing. All commercial wafer technologies are covered, that is multi- and monocrystalline wafers as well as ribbon technology. The presented data should be representative for the technology status in 2004, although for monocrystalline Si crystallisation further improvement of the data quality is recommended. On the basis of the new data a Life Cycle Assessment has been performed, which shows that c-Si PV systems are in a good position to compete with other energy technologies. Energy Pay-Back Times of 1.7-2.7 yr are found for South-European locations, while life-cycle CO 2 emissions are in the 30-45 g/kWh range. Clear perspectives exist for further improvements of roughly 40-50%.
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Photovoltaic (PV) technologies have shown remarkable progress recently in terms of annual production capacity and life cycle environmental performances, which necessitate timely updates of environmental indicators. Based on PV production data of 2004–2006, this study presents the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions, criteria pollutant emissions, and heavy metal emissions from four types of major commercial PV systems: multicrystalline silicon, monocrystalline silicon, ribbon silicon, and thin-film cadmium telluride. Life-cycle emissions were determined by employing average electricity mixtures in Europe and the United States during the materials and module production for each PV system. Among the current vintage of PV technologies, thin-film cadmium telluride (CdTe) PV emits the least amount of harmful air emissions as it requires the least amount of energy during the module production. However, the differences in the emissions between different PV technologies are very small in comparison to the emissions from conventional energy technologies that PV could displace. As a part of prospective analysis, the effect of PV breeder was investigated. Overall, all PV technologies generate far less life-cycle air emissions per GWh than conventional fossil-fuel-based electricity generation technologies. At least 89% of air emissions associated with electricity generation could be prevented if electricity from photovoltaics displaces electricity from the grid.
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This paper presents an environmental life cycle assessment of a roof-integrated flexible solar cell laminate with tandem solar cells composed of amorphous silicon/nanocrystalline silicon (a-Si/nc-Si). The a-Si/nc-Si cells are considered to have 10% conversion efficiency. Their expected service life is 20 years. The production scale considered is 100 MWp per year. A comparison of the a-Si/nc-Si photovoltaic (PV) system with the roof-mounted multicrystalline silicon (multi-Si) PV system is also presented. For both PV systems, application in the Netherlands with an annual insolation of 1000 kWh/m2 is considered. We found that the overall damage scores of the a-Si/nc-Si PV system and the multi-Si PV system are 0.012 and 0.010 Ecopoints/kWh, respectively. For both PV systems, the impacts due to climate change, human toxicity, particulate matter formation, and fossil resources depletion together contribute to 96% of the overall damage scores. Each of both PV systems has a cumulative primary energy demand of 1.4 MJ/kWh. The cumulative primary energy demand of the a-Si/nc-Si PV system has an uncertainty of up to 41%. For the a-Si/nc-Si PV system, an energy payback time of 2.3 years is derived. The construction for roof integration, the silicon deposition, and etching are found to be the largest contributors to the primary energy demand of the a-Si/nc-Si PV system, whereas encapsulation and the construction for roof integration are the largest contributors to its impact on climate change. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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The environmental profiles of photovoltaic (PV) systems are becoming better as materials are used more efficiently in their production, and overall system performance improves. Our analysis details the material and energy inventories in the life cycle of high‐concentration PV systems, and, based on measured field‐performances, evaluates their energy payback times, life cycle greenhouse gas emissions, and usage of land and water. Although operating high‐concentration PV systems require considerable maintenance, their life cycle environmental burden is much lower than that of the flat‐plate c‐Si systems operating in the same high‐insolation regions. The estimated energy payback times of the Amonix 7700 PV system in operation at Phoenix, AZ, is only 0.9 year, and its estimated greenhouse gas emissions are 27 g CO2‐eq./kWh over 30 years, or approximately 16 g CO2‐eq./kWh over 50 years. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Indicators of efficiency and environmental performance are fundamental to marking progress toward more sustainable patterns of human development. Central to indicator development is a common framework through which the wide range of environmental assessment methods may make comparative analysis. Clear and consistent definitions of system boundaries and input categories are essential to their interpretation, and form a necessary pre-requisite for meaningful comparisons of competing systems. A common framework of foreground and background categories, consistent with both LCA and Emergy Synthesis, is identified and discussed as the basis for the calculation of performance indicators. In this paper a revised operational definition of the Emergy Yield Ratio (EYR) is introduced, in light of the proposed categorization scheme, for consistent application to technological processes. Two case studies, namely CdTe PV and oil-fired thermal electricity production, are investigated. The Unit Emergy Value (UEV) of electricity generated by the thermal plant was calculated as 5.69E5 seJ/J with services and 5.11E5 seJ/J without services. The UEV for electricity generated by the PV system is 1.45E5 seJ/J with services, and 7.93E4 seJ/J without services. The computed EYRs including services are 6.8 for thermal electricity and 2.2 for PV electricity.
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Recognized as an indispensable player in the future electricity supply mix of China, photovoltaic (PV) power has experienced a fast expansion in recent years. Owing to the higher cost compared with traditional coal-fired power, financial subsidy is crucial for the development of PV power. Although a series of policies have been implemented to subsidize PV power, strong and steady policies to stimulate China's PV power installation is still in need. One important reason for the lack of such policies is that whether the benefits associated with PV power cover the cost of subsidy is unclear. In this paper, we carry out a detailed study to quantify the co-benefit from the replacement of traditional coal-fired power by the large-scale photovoltaic power (LS-PV) comprised of polycrystalline cells in China. Our life cycle analysis (LCA) shows that the estimated co-benefit of polycrystalline LS-PV is 0.167 yuan/kWh, and the year of grid parity will come about 4 years earlier in China if the co-benefit is internalized.
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A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study of a Building Integrated Concentrated Photovoltaic (BICPV) scheme at the University of Lleida (Spain) is conducted. Assumptions for representing a real building are considered, and a comparison to a hypothetical conventional Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) scheme is established. The Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) is performed using the EI99 methodology, which is considered to be the reference. In addition, the environmental impact is re-evaluated using the EPS 2000 methodology. The results show a significant extent of the environmental benefits gained using the BICPV schemes. Some differences in the components impact contribution percentages are noticed between the EI99 and the EPS 2000 methodologies. Nevertheless, both methodologies coincide in the conclusion of the significant environmental impact reduction reached from replacing the conventional BIPV schemes with the BICPV ones. Recommendations for future work and system improvements are discussed as well.
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Solar energy is an important alternative energy source to fossil fuels and theoretically the most available energy source on the earth. Solar energy can be converted into electric energy by using two different processes: by means of thermodynamic cycles and the photovoltaic conversion.Solar thermal technologies, sometimes called thermodynamic solar technologies, operating at medium (about 500 °C) and high temperatures (about 1000 °C), have recently attracted a renewed interest and have become one of the most promising alternatives in the field of solar energy utilization.Photovoltaic conversion is very interesting, although still quite expensive, because of the absence of moving components and the reduced operating and management costs.The main objectives of the present work are:•to carry out comparative technical evaluations on the amount of electricity produced by two hypothetical plants, located on the same site, for which a preliminary design was made: a solar thermal power plant with parabolic trough collectors and a photovoltaic plant with a single-axis tracking system;•to carry out a comparative analysis of the environmental impact derived from the processes of electricity generation during the whole life cycle of the two hypothetical power plants.First a technical comparison between the two plants was made assuming that they have the same nominal electric power and then the same total covered surface.The methodology chosen to evaluate the environmental impact associated with the power plants is the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). It allows to analyze all the phases of the life cycle of the plants, from the extraction of raw materials until their disposal, following the “from cradle to grave” perspective. The environmental impact of the two power plants was simulated by using the software SimaPro 7.1, elaborated by PRé Consultants and using the Eco-Indicator 99 methodology.Finally, the results of the analysis of the environmental impact are used to calculate the following parameters associated to the power plants: EPBT (Energy Pay-Back Time), CO2 emissions and GWP100 (Global Warming Potential over a 100 year time horizon).
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The life-cycle analysis (LCA) of photovoltaic (PV) systems is an important tool to quantify the potential environmental advantage of using solar technologies versus more traditional technologies, especially the ones relying on non-renewable fossil fuel sources.This work performs a life-cycle assessment on a 200kW roof top photovoltaic (PV) system with polycrystalline silicon modules and evaluates the net energy pay-back and greenhouse gas emission rates. The performed life-cycle assessment “upstream” and “downstream” processes are considered, such as raw materials production, fabrication of system components, transportation and installation. The energy pay-back time ratio is determined for the installed technology and two other technologies of PV modules (monocrystalline and thin-film).The analysed PV system, located in Pineda de Mar (Catalonia, Spain), has an energy pay-back time ratio of 4.36 years. Furthermore, a sensibility analysis on solar radiation has been performed.
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Published scientific literature contains many studies estimating life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of residential and utility-scale solar photovoltaics (PVs). Despite the volume of published work, variability in results hinders generalized conclusions. Most variance between studies can be attributed to differences in methods and assumptions. To clarify the published results for use in decision making and other analyses, we conduct a meta-analysis of existing studies, harmonizing key performance characteristics to produce more comparable and consistently derived results. Screening 397 life cycle assessments (LCAs) relevant to PVs yielded 13 studies on crystalline silicon (c-Si) that met minimum standards of quality, transparency, and relevance. Prior to harmonization, the median of 42 estimates of life cycle GHG emissions from those 13 LCAs was 57 grams carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour (g CO2-eq/kWh), with an interquartile range (IQR) of 44 to 73. After harmonizing key performance characteristics (irradiation of 1,700 kilowatt-hours per square meter per year (kWh/m2/yr); system lifetime of 30 years; module efficiency of 13.2% or 14.0%, depending on module type; and a performance ratio of 0.75 or 0.80, depending on installation, the median estimate decreased to 45 and the IQR tightened to 39 to 49. The median estimate and variability were reduced compared to published estimates mainly because of higher average assumptions for irradiation and system lifetime. For the sample of studies evaluated, harmonization effectively reduced variability, providing a clearer synopsis of the life cycle GHG emissions from c-Si PVs. The literature used in this harmonization neither covers all possible c-Si installations nor represents the distribution of deployed or manufactured c-Si PVs.
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The use of two axes tracking systems has been widely implemented because of the higher rates in energy production that these systems can achieve. However, the reduction of the PV modules cost makes the economic advantage of these tracking systems not so evident and this has aroused the interest of analysing them from other points of view such as efficiency or energy performance and environmental impact.Most of the existing LCA studies related to Photovoltaic systems are focused in the comparison of the different technologies used for cell production; some reports include also the module assembly, but there is little information regarding the environmental impact caused by the complete solar photovoltaic plant.In this paper, a Life cycle analysis of two types of installations (with and without solar tracking) in different geographic locations is presented. The methodology, based on recognized international standards, provides the best framework for assessing the most relevant factors causing the environmental impacts and gives relevant information for further improvements. The results also allow the comparison of different solutions and the calculation of the Energy and Environmental Payback time of both configurations.Highlights► We think that the main contributions of this paper are the following: ► Life cycle assessment of different configurations of a solar farm, with and without sun-tracking systems. ► Assessment of the environmental impact depending on the Energy mix avoided. ► Use of alternative eco-indicators for the assessment of solar photovoltaic energy production. ► Factors that influence the environmental impact of a PV plant during its life cycle. Sensitivity analysis.
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Photovoltaic installations (PV-systems) are heavily promoted in Europe. In this paper, the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) method is used to find out whether the high subsidy cost can be justified by the environmental benefits. Most existing LCAs of PV only use one-dimensional indicators and are only valid for regions with a high solar irradiation. This paper, however, presents a broad environmental evaluation of residential PV-systems for regions with a rather low solar irradiation of 900-1000Â kWh/m2/year, a value typical for Northern Europe and Canada. Based on the Ecoinvent LCA database, six Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) methods were considered for six different PV-technologies; the comprehensive Eco-Indicator 99 (EI 99) with its three perspectives (Hierarchist, Egalitarian and Individualistic) next to three one-dimensional indicators, namely Cumulative Energy Demand (CED), Global Warming Potential (GWP) and the Energy Payback Time (EPT). For regions with low solar irradiation, we found that the EPT is less than 5 years. The Global Warming Potential of PV-electricity is about 10 times lower than that of electricity from a coal fired plant, but 4 times higher when compared to a nuclear power plant or a wind farm. Surprisingly, our results from the more comprehensive EI 99 assessment method do not correlate at all with our findings based on EPT and GWP. The results from the Individualist perspective are strongly influenced by the weighting of the different environmental aspects, which can be misleading. Therefore, to obtain a well-balanced environmental assessment of energy technologies, we recommend a carefully evaluated combination of various impact assessment methods.