University of Oulu

Life cycle assessment of ground mounted photovoltaic panels

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Author: Tran, Linh1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Technology, Environmental Engineering
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
Pages: 89
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : L. Tran, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-08-05
Thesis type: Master's thesis (tech)
Tutor: Louis, Jean-Nicolas
Pongracz, Eva
Reviewer: Louis, Jean-Nicolas
Pongracz, Eva
Vierre, Tobias
Hottenroth, Heidi


Nowadays, the problem of carbon emission attracts a lot of attention from people in the world. To solve this problem, many solutions are proposed to get the target of Greenhouse Gas emission reduction. Among of all, the increase of the share of renewable energy is known as a feasible and promising approach for achieving this goal. Solar power and wind power is considered as two dominant renewable sources having a significant contribution to the power generation as well as reducing CO₂ emissions. In this study, ground mounted photovoltaic plant is taken as a approach for achieving this target.

The objective of the study was to answer three research questions: (1) What are the life-cycle environmental impacts of ground-mounted photovoltaic (GMPV) systems; (2) What are the missing data to perform life cycle assessment (LCA) of GMPV? and (3)What are the future development projections for GMPV and how would they impact on their LCA? Furthermore, the state of the art of GMPV technology is also reviewed.

The thesis is based on the data of Ecoinvent v3.3, available in open LCA, associating with six cases studies on GMPV, will give an evaluation about the state of the art of technology, the data gap of GMPV in Ecoinvent v3.3. The LCA method is known as a quantitative approach which is utilized to make an evaluation of whole process of a product. The four steps of LCA are goal and scope definition, inventory analysis, impact assessment and interpretation.

Based on the six case studies from literature, the data gaps were recognized regarding the power output, number of modules, performance module and degradation rate, and the materials in the mounting system. These data gaps are very important because they have the significant impacts on the implementation of LCA approach. If these data gaps were filled, operators would be likely to have a more precise evaluation of GMPV systems.

It was concluded that multicrystalline silicon module is the commercially available material with highest efficiency but, because of their high cost, the development is shifted towards CdTe thin film materials. CdTe thin film is gradually proving its position in the photovoltaic (PV) commercial market because of growing efficiency and reasonable cost, which are very important when applying in the large scale of GMPV systems. Finally, it was suggested that the third generation technology, which is the combination between Generation 1 technology and Generation II technology with the feature of high efficiency and reasonable cost, has the highest potential for applying in GMPV.

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Copyright information: © Linh Tran, 2019. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.