Renewable Energy, Vol.164, 556-565, 2021
Third generation of photovoltaic panels: A life cycle assessment
This study analyzed the impacts from multi-crystalline silicon (m-Si), organic thin-film (OPV), and perovskite thin-film (PSC) panels over each products' lifetime using a cradle-to-grave system model. The rate of panel installation each year was modeled to account for efficiency, functional lifetime, and degradation. Landfill and recycling scenarios were used to compare end-of-life impacts and the overall environmental impacts were determined using life cycle impact assessment at the midpoint and endpoint levels. Impact calculations revealed that the production and use of m-Si panels resulted in the worst impacts for all categories. OPV panels produced drastically lower impacts comparatively, with PSC designs falling at mid-range. Recycling lowered the impacts for all module types and showed the largest decrease in the impacts of m-Si panels. Although moderately sensitive to the energy production mix, the results can be applied to other regions for the comparison between panel types. (C) 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.