The life cycle design framework was applied to photovoltaic (PV) module design. The primary objective of this project was to develop and evaluate design metrics for assessing and guiding the improvement of PV product systems. Two metrics were used to assess life cycle energy performance of a PV module: energy payback time and electricity production efficiency. These metrics are based on material production, manufacturing, and transportation energies, and were evaluated for several geographic locations. An aluminum frame is responsible for a significant fraction of the total energy invested in the module studied. Design options to reduce energy impact of this and other components are discussed.
CSS Publication Number:
Lewis, Geoffrey. and Gregory A. Keoleian. 1997. Life Cycle Design of Amorphous Silicon Photovoltaic Modules. National Risk Management Research Laboratory, US Environmental Protection Agency. EPA/600/R-97/081.