IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Evaluation of technical improvements of photovoltaic systems through life cycle assessment methodology

Listed author(s):
  • Battisti, Riccardo
  • Corrado, Annalisa
Registered author(s):

    Since solar energy systems feed on a ‘clean’ energy source, they do not produce polluting emissions during their operation. However, they carry the environmental weight of other phases in their life cycle. In order to analyze the energy and environmental profile of these systems, it is necessary to expand the system boundaries, taking into account also the ‘hidden impacts’ related to production, transportation and system disposal at the end of its technical life. Here, the life cycle assessment methodology is applied to derive a complete and extended energy and environmental profile of photovoltaic systems. As reference case, a conventional multi-crystalline building integrated system is selected, retrofitted on a tilted roof, located in Rome (Italy) and connected to the national electricity grid. Then improved configurations of the reference system are assessed, focusing on building integration issues and the operational phase (considering an experimental hybrid photovoltaic system with heat recovery). Environmental ‘pay back times’ of the assessed systems are then calculated for CO2 equivalent emissions and embodied energy. All the analyzed configurations are characterized by environmental pay back times one order of magnitude lower than their expected life time (3–4 years vs. 15–30 years). Thanks to a wider exploitation of photovoltaic potential during its ‘zero emission operation’, these results are further lowered by photovoltaic hybrid systems (environmental pay back times, depending on heat recovery configuration, go down to 40–50% of the values calculated for the reference case).

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy.

    Volume (Year): 30 (2005)
    Issue (Month): 7 ()
    Pages: 952-967

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:energy:v:30:y:2005:i:7:p:952-967
    DOI: 10.1016/
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:energy:v:30:y:2005:i:7:p:952-967. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.