Abstract

Photovoltaic (PV) power generation is critical to many climate policy goals, as PV electricity results in little or no greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during use, utilities and governments view PV installations as a way to accelerate progress towards emissions reduction targets. However, typical analyses of the GHG implications of the PV lifecycle ignore inter-temporal effects, in which the initial GHGs emitted in PV manufacturing phase must be offset by avoided fossil-fuel combustion emissions during use. Thus, the overall climate benefits of PV are a function of both GHG efficiency of PV manufacture, and electricity generation efficiency of deployed modules during use. Improvements to PV manufacture result in immediate climate benefits, in contrast with improvements in module efficiency which may offset greater GHG emissions, albeit over decades of useful life. This study presents a novel framework using the cumulative radiative forcing (CRF) metric to demonstrate the significant climate benefit of improving PV manufacturing processes predominantly located in GHG-intensive geographies and determines the equivalent increase in module efficiency that provide the same climate benefit. The findings show low-carbon PV manufacturing increases the life-cycle climate benefit by 20% and is equivalent to increasing the module efficiency from a baseline value of 17% to 21.7% and 16% to 18.7% for mono-Si and multi-Si modules, respectively. With commercial module efficiency having increased annually by only 0.25% over the last 12 years, the implication is that improving PV manufacturing may be more effective than module efficiency improvements for increasing the climate benefit of terawatt scale PV installations.

LanguageEnglish (US)
Pages245-256
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Energy
Volume189
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

Fingerprint

research and development
climate
greenhouse gas
Greenhouse gases
manufacturing
Gas emissions
Electricity
electricity generation
radiative forcing
power generation
environmental policy
fossil fuel
electricity
life cycle
combustion
carbon
geography
emission reduction
effect
Monocrystalline silicon

Keywords

  • Climate impacts
  • Energy sustainability
  • Photovoltaics
  • Photovoltaics manufacturing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Energy(all)

Cite this

A climate rationale for research and development on photovoltaics manufacture. / Ravikumar, Dwarakanath; Wender, Ben; Seager, Thomas P.; Fraser, Matthew P.; Tao, Meng.

In: Applied Energy, Vol. 189, 01.03.2017, p. 245-256.

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

@article{06b47c253119490dbb4a2ddaa5ef5fc2,
title = "A climate rationale for research and development on photovoltaics manufacture",
abstract = "Photovoltaic (PV) power generation is critical to many climate policy goals, as PV electricity results in little or no greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during use, utilities and governments view PV installations as a way to accelerate progress towards emissions reduction targets. However, typical analyses of the GHG implications of the PV lifecycle ignore inter-temporal effects, in which the initial GHGs emitted in PV manufacturing phase must be offset by avoided fossil-fuel combustion emissions during use. Thus, the overall climate benefits of PV are a function of both GHG efficiency of PV manufacture, and electricity generation efficiency of deployed modules during use. Improvements to PV manufacture result in immediate climate benefits, in contrast with improvements in module efficiency which may offset greater GHG emissions, albeit over decades of useful life. This study presents a novel framework using the cumulative radiative forcing (CRF) metric to demonstrate the significant climate benefit of improving PV manufacturing processes predominantly located in GHG-intensive geographies and determines the equivalent increase in module efficiency that provide the same climate benefit. The findings show low-carbon PV manufacturing increases the life-cycle climate benefit by 20% and is equivalent to increasing the module efficiency from a baseline value of 17% to 21.7% and 16% to 18.7% for mono-Si and multi-Si modules, respectively. With commercial module efficiency having increased annually by only 0.25% over the last 12 years, the implication is that improving PV manufacturing may be more effective than module efficiency improvements for increasing the climate benefit of terawatt scale PV installations.",
keywords = "Climate impacts, Energy sustainability, Photovoltaics, Photovoltaics manufacturing",
author = "Dwarakanath Ravikumar and Ben Wender and Seager, {Thomas P.} and Fraser, {Matthew P.} and Meng Tao",
year = "2017",
month = "3",
doi = "10.1016/j.apenergy.2016.12.050",
volume = "189",
pages = "245--256",
journal = "Applied Energy",
issn = "0306-2619",
publisher = "Elsevier BV",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - A climate rationale for research and development on photovoltaics manufacture

AU - Ravikumar,Dwarakanath

AU - Wender,Ben

AU - Seager,Thomas P.

AU - Fraser,Matthew P.

AU - Tao,Meng

PY - 2017/3/1

Y1 - 2017/3/1

N2 - Photovoltaic (PV) power generation is critical to many climate policy goals, as PV electricity results in little or no greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during use, utilities and governments view PV installations as a way to accelerate progress towards emissions reduction targets. However, typical analyses of the GHG implications of the PV lifecycle ignore inter-temporal effects, in which the initial GHGs emitted in PV manufacturing phase must be offset by avoided fossil-fuel combustion emissions during use. Thus, the overall climate benefits of PV are a function of both GHG efficiency of PV manufacture, and electricity generation efficiency of deployed modules during use. Improvements to PV manufacture result in immediate climate benefits, in contrast with improvements in module efficiency which may offset greater GHG emissions, albeit over decades of useful life. This study presents a novel framework using the cumulative radiative forcing (CRF) metric to demonstrate the significant climate benefit of improving PV manufacturing processes predominantly located in GHG-intensive geographies and determines the equivalent increase in module efficiency that provide the same climate benefit. The findings show low-carbon PV manufacturing increases the life-cycle climate benefit by 20% and is equivalent to increasing the module efficiency from a baseline value of 17% to 21.7% and 16% to 18.7% for mono-Si and multi-Si modules, respectively. With commercial module efficiency having increased annually by only 0.25% over the last 12 years, the implication is that improving PV manufacturing may be more effective than module efficiency improvements for increasing the climate benefit of terawatt scale PV installations.

AB - Photovoltaic (PV) power generation is critical to many climate policy goals, as PV electricity results in little or no greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during use, utilities and governments view PV installations as a way to accelerate progress towards emissions reduction targets. However, typical analyses of the GHG implications of the PV lifecycle ignore inter-temporal effects, in which the initial GHGs emitted in PV manufacturing phase must be offset by avoided fossil-fuel combustion emissions during use. Thus, the overall climate benefits of PV are a function of both GHG efficiency of PV manufacture, and electricity generation efficiency of deployed modules during use. Improvements to PV manufacture result in immediate climate benefits, in contrast with improvements in module efficiency which may offset greater GHG emissions, albeit over decades of useful life. This study presents a novel framework using the cumulative radiative forcing (CRF) metric to demonstrate the significant climate benefit of improving PV manufacturing processes predominantly located in GHG-intensive geographies and determines the equivalent increase in module efficiency that provide the same climate benefit. The findings show low-carbon PV manufacturing increases the life-cycle climate benefit by 20% and is equivalent to increasing the module efficiency from a baseline value of 17% to 21.7% and 16% to 18.7% for mono-Si and multi-Si modules, respectively. With commercial module efficiency having increased annually by only 0.25% over the last 12 years, the implication is that improving PV manufacturing may be more effective than module efficiency improvements for increasing the climate benefit of terawatt scale PV installations.

KW - Climate impacts

KW - Energy sustainability

KW - Photovoltaics

KW - Photovoltaics manufacturing

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85007124214&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85007124214&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.apenergy.2016.12.050

DO - 10.1016/j.apenergy.2016.12.050

M3 - Article

VL - 189

SP - 245

EP - 256

JO - Applied Energy

T2 - Applied Energy

JF - Applied Energy

SN - 0306-2619

ER -