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Comparing various indicators for the LCA of residential photovoltaic systems

Ruben Laleman (UGent) , Johan Albrecht (UGent) and Jo Dewulf (UGent)
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Abstract
This chapter presents a broad environmental evaluation of residential Photovoltaic (PV) systems. It focuses mainly on how variations in irradiation levels, assessment methodology, and the lifetime of the solar panel influence the perception regarding its sustainability. Data from the Ecoinvent Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) database and the literature were used and various Life-Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) methods were considered for six different PV types. The results indicate that variations in irradiation levels, methodology and lifetime can significantly influence the final results and conclusions of a LCA. By carefully selecting assumptions and methodology, one can clearly influence the perceived environmental impact of PV systems. In addition, we state that multidimensional indicators should be used along with the one-dimensional ones. Also, the choice of the perspective (Hierarchist, Egalitarian or Individualist) has a major impact on the final results. In our opinion, the current focus on Greenhouse Gas (GHG)-emissions and energy efficiency ignores important environmental impact dimensions such as resource depletion.
Keywords
PV-systems, Solar Energy, Life Cycle Assessment, Environmental Impact

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Chicago
Laleman, Ruben, Johan Albrecht, and Jo Dewulf. 2013. “Comparing Various Indicators for the LCA of Residential Photovoltaic Systems.” In Life Cycle Assessment of Renewable Energy Sources, ed. Anoop Singh, Deepak Pant, and Stig Irving Olsen, 211–239. London, UK: Springer.
APA
Laleman, R., Albrecht, J., & Dewulf, J. (2013). Comparing various indicators for the LCA of residential photovoltaic systems. In Anoop Singh, D. Pant, & S. I. Olsen (Eds.), Life cycle assessment of renewable energy sources (pp. 211–239). London, UK: Springer.
Vancouver
1.
Laleman R, Albrecht J, Dewulf J. Comparing various indicators for the LCA of residential photovoltaic systems. In: Singh A, Pant D, Olsen SI, editors. Life cycle assessment of renewable energy sources. London, UK: Springer; 2013. p. 211–39.
MLA
Laleman, Ruben, Johan Albrecht, and Jo Dewulf. “Comparing Various Indicators for the LCA of Residential Photovoltaic Systems.” Life Cycle Assessment of Renewable Energy Sources. Ed. Anoop Singh, Deepak Pant, & Stig Irving Olsen. London, UK: Springer, 2013. 211–239. Print.
@incollection{4140595,
  abstract     = {This chapter presents a broad environmental evaluation of residential Photovoltaic (PV) systems. It focuses mainly on how variations in irradiation levels, assessment methodology, and the lifetime of the solar panel influence the perception regarding its sustainability. Data from the Ecoinvent Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) database and the literature were used and various Life-Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) methods were considered for six different PV types.
The results indicate that variations in irradiation levels, methodology and lifetime can significantly influence the final results and conclusions of a LCA. By carefully selecting assumptions and methodology, one can clearly influence the perceived environmental impact of PV systems. In addition, we state that multidimensional indicators should be used along with the one-dimensional ones. Also, the choice of the perspective (Hierarchist, Egalitarian or Individualist) has a major impact on the final results. In our opinion, the current focus on Greenhouse Gas (GHG)-emissions and energy efficiency ignores important environmental impact dimensions such as resource depletion.},
  author       = {Laleman, Ruben and Albrecht, Johan and Dewulf, Jo},
  booktitle    = {Life cycle assessment of renewable energy sources},
  editor       = {Singh, Anoop and Pant, Deepak and Olsen, Stig Irving},
  isbn         = {9781447153634},
  issn         = {1865-3529},
  keyword      = {PV-systems,Solar Energy,Life Cycle Assessment,Environmental Impact},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {211--239},
  publisher    = {Springer},
  series       = {Green Energy and Technology},
  title        = {Comparing various indicators for the LCA of residential photovoltaic systems},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4471-5364-1\_10},
  year         = {2013},
}

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