Life cycle assessment on PERC solar modules

Marina M. Lunardi, J.P. Alvarez-Gaitan, Nathan L.Chang, Richard Corkish (2018). “Life cycle assessment on PERC solar modules.” Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 187, 154-159. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solmat.2018.08.004

Abstract: The screen-printed aluminium back surface field (Al-BSF) technology is the current industry standard process for crystalline silicon solar cells but, due to the search for higher efficiency, much attention has been paid to the passivated emitter and rear cell (PERC), which is gaining significant share in the world market. We undertake an environmental analysiscomparing Al-BSF and PERC monocrystalline solar modules. Through the life cycle assessment (LCA) method we calculate the global warming, human toxicity (cancer and non-cancer effects), freshwater eutrophication, freshwater ecotoxicity, abiotic depletion potentials and energy payback time of these technologies considering solar, electronic and upgraded metallurgical grade silicon feedstock. The functional unit considered is 1 kWh of energy delivered over the modules’ lifetime. As a result of this work, we showed that PERC technology generates a slight improvement in the environmental impacts when compared with Al-BSF. The use of electronic and upgraded metallurgical grade silicon results in lower environmental impacts in most cases, compared with the other technologies analysed, based on the assumptions made in this LCA.

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