Prospective life cycle assessment of third-generation photovoltaics at the pre-industrial scale: A long-term scenario approach
- Posted by R2ES Laboratory
- On 13 Gennaio 2020
- 0 Comments
The development of sustainable technologies for energy generation should necessarily undergo sustainability assessment. A well-recognized, valuable tool to accomplish this task is the life cycle assessment. In particular, prospective life cycle assessment can provide the useful methodological framework to calculate eco-profiles of third-generation photovoltaic technologies with a future-oriented perspective. In this paper, we present the life cycle assessment of a real semi-industrial production process of dye-sensitized solar modules performed by the Italian Dyepower consortium.
Due to the unique availability of primary data at the semi-industrial scale, an extensive inventory is built and a long-term approach is implemented based on predictive scenarios featuring technological development and energy mix evolution. The aim is to evaluate of the potential of this technology from an environmental sustainability perspective as a renewable source for electricity generation in the future European energy market, namely, for building integrated applications.
The results demonstrate the well-performing environmental footprint of the device and its pre-industrial fabrication process that, coupled with architectural versatility and remarkable performance in low intensity and diffuse light, make this technology suitable for different niches of the energy market. This analysis also highlights challenges in the fabrication process and identifies the technological improvements, alternative materials and engineering solutions that would further improve the environmental footprint of dye sensitized solar modules. Finally, the proposed life cycle assessment approach, provided that detailed and robust primary data are available, is valid for the investigation of the eco-profile of third generation photovoltaic technologies in terms of environmental sustainability in the European context.