Next Article in Journal
Modeling of Load Bearing Characteristics of Jacket Foundation Piles for Offshore Wind Turbines in Taiwan
Next Article in Special Issue
The Solarevolution: Much More with Way Less, Right Now—The Disruptive Shift to Renewables
Previous Article in Journal
Automated Variable Selection and Shrinkage for Day-Ahead Electricity Price Forecasting
Previous Article in Special Issue
Understanding the Contribution of Mining and Transportation to the Total Life Cycle Impacts of Coal Exported from the United States
Article Menu
Issue 8 (August) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Energies 2016, 9(8), 622; doi:10.3390/en9080622

The Energy and Environmental Performance of Ground-Mounted Photovoltaic Systems—A Timely Update

1
Department of Science and Technology, Parthenope University of Naples, Centro Direzionale-Isola C4, Naples 80143, Italy
2
Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, Wheatley OX33 1HK, UK
3
Center for Life Cycle Analysis, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA
4
Photovoltaic Environmental Research Center, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY 11973, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Gabriele Grandi
Received: 26 May 2016 / Revised: 4 July 2016 / Accepted: 27 July 2016 / Published: 8 August 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life-Cycle Assessment of Energy Systems in Current and Evolving Grids)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [2453 KB, uploaded 8 August 2016]   |  

Abstract

Given photovoltaics’ (PVs) constant improvements in terms of material usage and energy efficiency, this paper provides a timely update on their life-cycle energy and environmental performance. Single-crystalline Si (sc-Si), multi-crystalline Si (mc-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) systems are analysed, considering the actual country of production and adapting the input electricity mix accordingly. Energy pay-back time (EPBT) results for fixed-tilt ground mounted installations range from 0.5 years for CdTe PV at high-irradiation (2300 kWh/(m2·yr)) to 2.8 years for sc-Si PV at low-irradiation (1000 kWh/(m2·yr)), with corresponding quality-adjusted energy return on investment (EROIPE-eq) values ranging from over 60 to ~10. Global warming potential (GWP) per kWhel averages out at ~30 g(CO2-eq), with lower values (down to ~10 g) for CdTe PV at high irradiation, and up to ~80 g for Chinese sc-Si PV at low irradiation. In general, results point to CdTe PV as the best performing technology from an environmental life-cycle perspective, also showing a remarkable improvement for current production modules in comparison with previous generations. Finally, we determined that one-axis tracking installations can improve the environmental profile of PV systems by approximately 10% for most impact metrics. View Full-Text
Keywords: photovoltaic (PV); crystalline Si (c-Si); cadmium telluride (CdTe); copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS); life cycle assessment (LCA); net energy analysis (NEA); energy return on investment (EROI); energy pay-back time (EPBT); environmental performance photovoltaic (PV); crystalline Si (c-Si); cadmium telluride (CdTe); copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS); life cycle assessment (LCA); net energy analysis (NEA); energy return on investment (EROI); energy pay-back time (EPBT); environmental performance
Figures

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

Scifeed alert for new publications

Never miss any articles matching your research from any publisher
  • Get alerts for new papers matching your research
  • Find out the new papers from selected authors
  • Updated daily for 49'000+ journals and 6000+ publishers
  • Define your Scifeed now

SciFeed Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Leccisi, E.; Raugei, M.; Fthenakis, V. The Energy and Environmental Performance of Ground-Mounted Photovoltaic Systems—A Timely Update. Energies 2016, 9, 622.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics

1

Comments

[Return to top]
Energies EISSN 1996-1073 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top