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A Comparative Life-Cycle Assessment of Renewable Energy from High Efficiency Solar Photovoltaic Technologies
A. Danelli, E. Brivio
LCA, IBC, PERC, Carbon Footprint, HJT
Energy Transition – Integration, Storage, Sustainability, Policy, Economics, Energy Poverty, Society
Subtopic: Sustainability, Environment, and Circularity of PV
Event: 8th World Conference on Photovoltaic Energy Conversion
Session: 5DV.2.41
1625 - 1631
ISBN: 3-936338-86-8
Paper DOI: 10.4229/WCPEC-82022-5DV.2.41
0,00 EUR
Document(s): paper, poster


This paper presents a comparative life-cycle assessment of photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation by various mono-crystalline silicon (mono-Si) PV technologies; in particular, three ground mounted PV systems using different high-efficiency technologies (cell and module) are explored: (1) bifacial HJT (Heterojunction Technology) modules; (2) PERC (Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell) modules; and (3) IBC (Interdigitated Back Contact) modules. Furthermore, the LCA study – undertaken in accordance with the ISO 14040 and 14044 standards, and IEA-PVPS guidelines on the matter – concerned a hypothetical 85 MW power system in two possible plant configurations: i) ground mounted on a mono-axial tracker; ii) ground mounted on a fixed structure. The goal is to compare the different configurations and to identify, if any, the optimal solution. To assess the influence of the incident solar radiation value on the results obtained from the LCA analysis, two possible locations were considered, one in the north and the other in southern Italy. Results show that the greenhouse gas emissions of a PV system based on high-efficiency technologies, ranging from 10.5 to 18 g CO2eq/kWh, are significantly lower over the conventional Al-BSF technology. As regards plant configurations, the installation on a mono-axial solar tracker generates the least environmental impact for all the impact categories taken into consideration. As a matter of fact, the increase in energy production due to the mono-axial tracker generates environmental advantages that exceed those connected with the tracker production. The key finding of this study is that the improvements in the modules’ efficiency result in lower environmental impacts when compared to traditional silicon PV systems. The analysis relies on primary data for cells, modules, inverter and trackers production.