Life Cycle Analysis of Floatovoltaics

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Readers Please!![edit | edit source]

Any comments are welcomed on the Discussion page (tab on top left corner) including additional resources/papers/links etc. Papers can be added to relevant sections if done in chronological order with all citation information and short synopsis or abstract. Thank You.

LITERATURE REVIEW[edit | edit source]

Life cycle assessment of a floating photovoltaic system and feasibility for application in Thailand[edit | edit source]

Life cycle assessment of a floating photovoltaic system and feasibility for application in Thailand

  • Citation

Cromratie Clemons SK, Salloum CR, Herdegen KG, Kamens RM, Gheewala SH. Life cycle assessment of a floating photovoltaic system and feasibility for application in Thailand. Renewable Energy 2021;168:448–62. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2020.12.082.

  • Abstract

The performance of floating photovoltaics (FPV) was assessed by this study, a technology with rising popularity in the sustainable energy sector, by comparing its economic and environmental benefits to various types of photovoltaic technologies by utilizing Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Cost-Benefit Analysis. The largest impacts were shown from this LCA of a 150 MW FPV plant with a 30-year lifespan, which resulted from the roughly 73 kg of greenhouse gases and 110 m3s of water per MWh generated. Additionally, 21 reservoirs were considered in Thailand to house new FPV plants. Projected power generation scenarios varied between 0.64 GW and 13.28 GW when reservoir coverage percentages ranging from 1% to 20% were used. The Levelized Cost of Energy for several different photovoltaic systems yielded 0.24 USD per kWh for the FPV system, while the ground based polycrystalline and thin film systems were 0.43 USD and 0.54 USD per kWh, respectively. The payback period for FPV was 7.5 years, while for the polycrystalline and thin film it was 7.8 and 16.3 years. This combined with other factors made for a high return on investment for the FPV system. This study recommends a 10% coverage of 21 reservoirs throughout Thailand, allowing for potentially 6.52 GW of installed capacity, which would substantially help the country to reach their 2036 goal of having 30% of the energy mix from renewable sources.

  • Key Takeaways:
  1. Very few studies have focused on LCA of FPV
  2. LCA of pontoon-based FPV
  3. Functional unit used: Energy produced by a 150MW plant over the lifetime of the plant
  4. Cradle-to-grave analysis
  5. ISO 14040 and 14044 standards used for analysis
  6. Details on the material used was not provided

Introducing Life Cycle Assessment and its Presentation in ‘LCA Compendium’[edit | edit source]

Introducing Life Cycle Assessment and its Presentation in ‘LCA Compendium’

  • Citation

Klöpffer W. Introducing Life Cycle Assessment and its Presentation in ‘LCA Compendium.’ In: Klöpffer W, editor. Background and Future Prospects in Life Cycle Assessment, Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands; 2014, p. 1–37. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-8697-3_1.

  • Abstract

This chapter spans the time from the early days of Life Cycle Assessment—LCA (the time of the so-called ‘proto-LCAs’ between about 1970 and 1990), until recent trends of simplified/streamlined LCAs, the footprint specifications (carbon footprint, water footprint) and Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment—LCSA.Important benchmarks along this span are the harmonisation of LCA by SETAC (Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry) and the standardisation of LCA by ISO (International Standardisation Organisation).The basic discussions within SETAC occurred between 1990 and 1993.The first attempt to develop a suitable LCA-structure was achieved during the SETAC workshop ‘A Technical Framework for Life Cycle Assessments’ in August 1990, held in Smugglers Notch, Vermont, USA. The LCA-structure, the famous ‘SETAC triangle’, consisted of three components: Inventory—Impact Analysis—Improvement Analysis.SETAC revised the framework during the Sesimbra workshop in 1993. It was the merit of SETAC to initiate a standardisation process which culminated in the ‘Guidelines for Life-Cycle Assessment: A Code of Practice’. The LCA-structure, again a triangle, now included four components: Goal Definition and Scoping—Inventory Analysis—Impact Assessment—Improvement Assessment.This structure was only slightly modified by the ISO standardisation process: The fourth phase ‘Improvement Assessment’ (formerly ‘Improvement Analysis’) was replaced by ‘Interpretation’.After the harmonisation of LCA by SETAC, the International Standardisation Process was soon initiated (Autumn 1993 in Paris), but it took seven years for the first series of LCA standards to be published (ISO 14040, ISO 14041, ISO 14042, ISO 14043).The successful first series of ISO LCA standards superseded the SETAC ‘Code of Practice’, the Nordic guidelines and several national standards and became the uncontested model of an environmental life cycle standard. The series 14040 ff was revised once and condensed into two standards 14040 and 14044 (2006).The four-phase structure was not alteredThis chapter discusses the four phases of the LCA-structure by SETAC and ISO which are the subject of four volumes—Goal and Scope Definition in LCA; Life Cycle Inventory Analysis; Life Cycle Impact Assessment; Interpretation, Critical Review and Reporting. The remaining volumes follow a structure outside the ISO-framework: Applications of LCA, Special Types of LCA, Life Cycle Management, and Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment.

  • Key Takeaways:
  1. Description of LCA
  2. Background and history of LCA
  3. The Structure of LCA According to ISO 14040 and 14044
  4. Different types of LCA

Life cycle assessment study of solar PV systems: An example of a 2.7 kWp distributed solar PV system in Singapore[edit | edit source]

Life cycle assessment study of solar PV systems: An example of a 2.7 kWp distributed solar PV system in Singapore

  • Citation

Kannan R, Leong KC, Osman R, Ho HK, Tso CP. Life cycle assessment study of solar PV systems: An example of a 2.7kWp distributed solar PV system in Singapore. Solar Energy 2006;80:555–63. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solener.2005.04.008.

  • Abstract

In life cycle assessment (LCA) of solar PV systems, energy pay back time (EPBT) is the commonly used indicator to justify its primary energy use. However, EPBT is a function of competing energy sources with which electricity from solar PV is compared, and amount of electricity generated from the solar PV system which varies with local irradiation and ambient conditions. Therefore, it is more appropriate to use site-specific EPBT for major decision-making in power generation planning. LCA and life cycle cost analysis are performed for a distributed 2.7kWp grid-connected mono-crystalline solar PV system operating in Singapore. This paper presents various EPBT analyses of the solar PV system with reference to a fuel oil-fired steam turbine and their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and costs are also compared. The study reveals that GHG emission from electricity generation from the solar PV system is less than one-fourth that from an oil-fired steam turbine plant and one-half that from a gas-fired combined cycle plant. However, the cost of electricity is about five to seven times higher than that from the oil or gas fired power plant. The environmental uncertainties of the solar PV system are also critically reviewed and presented.

  • Key Takeaways:
  1. LCA and life cycle cost of an existing monocrystalline solar PV system
  2. Referenced to different studies regarding manufacture of monocrystalline solar cells (Studies might be old)

Carbon footprint of polycrystalline photovoltaic systems[edit | edit source]

Carbon footprint of polycrystalline photovoltaic systems

  • Citation

Stylos N, Koroneos C. Carbon footprint of polycrystalline photovoltaic systems. Journal of Cleaner Production 2014;64:639–45. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2013.10.014.

  • Abstract

The environmental and energy parameters of Photovoltaic (PV) systems play a very important role when compared to conventional power systems. In the present paper, a typical PV-system is analyzed to its elements and an assessment of the material and energy requirements during the production procedures is attempted. A Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is being performed on the production system of photovoltaics. Energy and environmental analyses are extended to the production of the primary energy carriers. This allows having a complete picture of the life cycle of all the PV-components described in the present study. Four different scenarios are examined in detail providing every possible aspect of scientific interest involving polycrystalline PV systems. In order to obtain concrete results from this study, the specific working tool used is the Eco-Indicator ’95 (1999) as being reliable and widely applied and accepted within LCA community. A process that relates inventory information with relevant concerns about natural resource usage and potential effects of environmental loadings is attempted. Large-scale PV-systems have many advantages in comparison with a conventional power system (e.g. diesel power station) in electricity production. As a matter of fact, PV-systems become part of the environment and the ecosystems from the moment of their installation. Carbon Footprints of various PV-systems scenarios are greatly smaller than that of a diesel power station operation. Further technological improvements in PV module production and in the manufacture of Balance-of-System components, as well as extended use of renewable energy resources as primary energy resources could make Carbon Footprint of PV-systems even smaller. Extended operational period of time (O.P.T.) of PV-systems determined by system reliability should be given special attention, because it can dramatically mitigate energy resources and raw materials exploitation.

  • Key Takeaways:
  1. LCA of a hypothetical PV system
  2. Explained why eco-indicator 95 is useful for LCA (now ecoindicator 99 is the new version)
  3. BOS elements were included, but no in-depth an analysis
  4. Presented important steps in manufacturing a solar panel
  5. CO2 emissions of a solar system: 12.28 - 58.81 gCO2eq/kWhe

Review on Life Cycle Assessment of Solar Photovoltaic Panels[edit | edit source]

Review on Life Cycle Assessment of Solar Photovoltaic Panels

  • Citation

Muteri V, Cellura M, Curto D, Franzitta V, Longo S, Mistretta M, et al. Review on Life Cycle Assessment of Solar Photovoltaic Panels. Energies 2020;13:252. https://doi.org/10.3390/en13010252.

  • Abstract

The photovoltaic (PV) sector has undergone both major expansion and evolution over the last decades, and currently, the technologies already marketed or still in the laboratory/research phase are numerous and very different. Likewise, in order to assess the energy and environmental impacts of these devices, life cycle assessment (LCA) studies related to these systems are always increasing. The objective of this paper is to summarize and update the current literature of LCA applied to different types of grid-connected PV, as well as to critically analyze the results related to energy and environmental impacts generated during the life cycle of PV technologies, from 1st generation (traditional silicon based) up to the third generation (innovative non-silicon based). Most of the results regarded energy indices like energy payback time, cumulative energy demand, and primary energy demand, while environmental indices were variable based on different scopes and impact assessment methods. Moreover, the review work allowed to highlight and compare key parameters (PV type and system, geographical location, efficiency), methodological insights (functional unit, system boundaries, etc.), and energy/environmental hotspots of 39 LCA studies relating to different PV systems, in order to underline the importance of these aspects, and to provide information and a basis of comparison for future analyses.

  • Key Takeaways:
  1. Performed a detailed review of the previously existing studies on LCA of PV systems
  2. Good source to find existing data in the literature concerning LCA of PV systems
  3. Provided a definition for LCA (Pg2)
  4. LCA study spanned across different generation of PV cells
  5. Papers reviewed are written in English and have been published from 2008
  6. Four key parameters for PV LCA: module efficiency / geographical location / Balance of system / type of panel
  7. BOS impact is low in 1st gen. panels

Life cycle assessment of crystalline photovoltaics in the Swiss ecoinvent database[edit | edit source]

Life cycle assessment of crystalline photovoltaics in the Swiss ecoinvent database

  • Citation

Jungbluth N. Life cycle assessment of crystalline photovoltaics in the Swiss ecoinvent database. Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications 2005;13:429–46. https://doi.org/10.1002/pip.614.

  • Abstract

This paper describes the life cycle assessment (LCA) for photovoltaic (PV) power plants in the new ecoinvent database. Twelve different, grid-connected photovoltaic systems were studied for the situation in Switzerland in the year 2000. They are manufactured as panels or laminates, from monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon, installed on facades, slanted or flat roofs, and have 3 kWp capacity. The process data include quartz reduction, silicon purification, wafer, panel and laminate production, mounting structure, 30 years operation and dismantling. In contrast to existing LCA studies, country-specific electricity mixes have been considered in the life cycle inventory (LCI) in order to reflect the present market situation. The new approach for the allocation procedure in the inventory of silicon purification, as a critical issue of former studies, is discussed in detail. The LCI for photovoltaic electricity shows that each production stage is important for certain elementary flows. A life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) shows that there are important environmental impacts not directly related to the energy use (e.g., process emissions of NOx from wafer etching). The assumption for the used supply energy mixes is important for the overall LCIA results of different production stages. The presented life cycle inventories for photovoltaic power plants are representative for newly constructed plants and for the average photovoltaic mix in Switzerland in the year 2000. A scenario for a future technology (until 2010) helps to assess the relative influence of technology improvements for some processes. The very detailed ecoinvent database forms a good basis for similar studies in other European countries or for other types of solar cells. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

  • Key Takeaways:
  1. Good source for details on silicon cells LCA data

Life Cycle Assessment of an innovative recycling process for crystalline silicon photovoltaic panels[edit | edit source]

Life Cycle Assessment of an innovative recycling process for crystalline silicon photovoltaic panels

  • Citation

Latunussa CEL, Ardente F, Blengini GA, Mancini L. Life Cycle Assessment of an innovative recycling process for crystalline silicon photovoltaic panels. Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 2016;156:101–11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solmat.2016.03.020.

  • Abstract

Lifecycle impacts of photovoltaic (PV) plants have been largely explored in several studies. However, the end-of-life phase has been generally excluded or neglected from these analyses, mainly because of the low amount of panels that reached the disposal yet and the lack of data about their end of life. It is expected that the disposal of PV panels will become a relevant environmental issue in the next decades. This article illustrates and analyses an innovative process for the recycling of silicon PV panel. The process is based on a sequence of physical (mechanical and thermal) treatments followed by acid leaching and electrolysis. The Life Cycle Assessment methodology has been applied to account for the environmental impacts of the process. Environmental benefits (i.e. credits) due to the potential productions of secondary raw materials have been intentionally excluded, as the focus is on the recycling process. The article provides transparent and disaggregated information on the end-of-life stage of silicon PV panel, which could be useful for other LCA practitioners for future assessment of PV technologies. The study highlights that the impacts are concentrated on the incineration of the panel׳s encapsulation layers, followed by the treatments to recover silicon metal, silver, copper, aluminium. For example around 20% of the global warming potential impact is due to the incineration of the sandwich layer and 30% to the post-incineration treatments. Transport is also relevant for several impact categories, ranging from a minimum of about 10% (for the freshwater eutrophication) up to 80% (for the Abiotic Depletion Potential – minerals).

  • Key Takeaways:
  1. Emphasized the need to perform LCA of the end-of-life of PV panels
  2. Performed LCA on end-of-life of solar panels
  3. Proposed a recycling process for used PV panels
  4. Made a list of different end-of-life scenarios for crystalline PV panels
  5. Gave a list of components of PV waste (The brand and power of the panel was not specified)
  6. Functional Unit: 1000kg of panel (PV + PV internal cables)
  7. Described the recycling process
  8. Provided inputs and outputs of the process
  9. Used of SimaPro and mid-point impact categories
  10. Land use and water resource depletion impact categories were not considered because of uncertainties.
  11. Provided results different mid-point immpact categories

Evaluation of the environmental performance of sc-Si and mc-Si PV systems in Korea[edit | edit source]

Evaluation of the environmental performance of sc-Si and mc-Si PV systems in Korea

  • Citation

Kim B, Lee J, Kim K, Hur T. Evaluation of the environmental performance of sc-Si and mc-Si PV systems in Korea. Solar Energy 2014;99:100–14. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solener.2013.10.038.

  • Abstract

In this study, environmental issues associated with silicon-based photovoltaic (PV) systems in Korea are investigated using life cycle assessment (LCA). The target PV systems are single-crystalline silicon (sc-Si) and multi-crystalline silicon (mc-Si) modules with a power conditioning system (PCS) and balance of system (BOS). In order to identify the environmental benefits and key environmental issues associated with the deployment of these systems, the global warming potential (GWP), fossil-fuel consumption (FFC), CO2 payback time (CO2PBT), and energy payback time (EPBT) of the target PV systems throughout their life cycles are analyzed. The LCA results show that sc-Si and mc-Si PV systems are superior to the current grid mix in Korea with respect to GWP and FFC. For the current conversion efficiency, the mc-Si PV system has lower values of GWP and FFC. With the predicted improvements in conversion efficiency, the GWP results associated with the construction phase of sc-Si and mc-Si PV system will be offset by electricity generated in 1.66 and 1.53years, since then 1470 and 1477tonne CO2 equiv. of GHGs are reduced during its lifetimes, respectively. In addition, the energy inputs during sc-Si and mc-Si PV system’s construction phase will be offset in 3.11 and 2.97years, since by then 10.15 and 10.20TJ of net energy benefit will have been obtained, respectively. Considering the planned deployment of PV systems in Korea and the expected improvements in PV module efficiencies, the net CO2 reduction and net energy benefit between 2010 and 2030 were calculated. If 0.45% of the Korean grid mix was substituted with mc-Si PV systems, and a conversion efficiency of 20.30% were attained, the net CO2 reduction would be a 69.8Mtonne CO2 equiv. The supply plan is achieved using sc-Si PV systems, which achieve a conversion efficiency of 27.60%; the net energy benefit would be 410.6 TJ, which is equivalent to 4.3% of the total primary energy supply in 2009. It is shown that sc-Si and mc-Si PV systems would be suitable solutions to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions if they replaced non-renewable energy sources in Korea.

  • Key Takeaways:
  1. Analyzed EPBT (Energy Payback Time), CO2PBT (CO2 Payback Time), GWP (Global Warming Potential), and FFC (Fossil fuel consumption)
  2. Used SimaPro 7.1
  3. Functional Unit: 1kWh electricity produced
  4. Boundaries: Pre-manufacturing to disposal of PV and BOS
  5. Provided formulae for the calculation of EPBT and CO2PBT
  6. Indicated elements used in the LCA
  7. Described the manufacturing process of PV module
  8. Compared result with Koran grid mix

Environmental influence assessment of China’s multi-crystalline silicon (multi-Si) photovoltaic modules considering recycling process[edit | edit source]

Environmental influence assessment of China’s multi-crystalline silicon (multi-Si) photovoltaic modules considering recycling process

  • Citation

Huang B, Zhao J, Chai J, Xue B, Zhao F, Wang X. Environmental influence assessment of China’s multi-crystalline silicon (multi-Si) photovoltaic modules considering recycling process. Solar Energy 2017;143:132–41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solener.2016.12.038.

  • Abstract

The environmental burden of multi-Si PV modules in China has been discussed in existing studies, however, their data are mostly from local enterprises, and none of their environmental assessment involves the decommissioning and recycling process. This study quantitatively assesses the life-cycle environmental impacts of Chinese Multi-crystalline Photovoltaic Systems involving the recycling process. The LCA software GaBi is applied to establish the LCA model and to perform the calculation, and ReCiPe method is chosen to quantify the environmental impacts. LCA of production process reveals that Polysilicon production, Cell processing and Modules assembling have relatively higher environmental impact than processes of Industrial silicon smelting and Ingot casting and Wafer slicing. Among the 14 environmental impact categories evaluated by ReCiPe methodology, the most prominent environment impacts are found as Climate Change and Human Toxicity. LCA including recycling process reveals that although recycling process has environmental impact, the recycling scenario has less environmental impact by comparing with the landfill scenario. Among the five manufacturing processes and recycling process, environmental impacts of polysilicon production, cell processing and modules assembling have relatively higher uncertainty, probably because that the environmental impact of these processes is high, and standard error of parameters such as electricity, aluminum and glass in the three processes are high. Findings of our study indicate that proper measures should be taken in the high pollution processes such as polysilicon production and cell processing. In addition, efforts should also be made to enhance the recovery rate and seek for more environmental friendly materials in the recycling process.

  • Key Takeaways:
  1. Use of ReCiPe to assess the impact categories
  2. Software used: GaBi
  3. 14 mid-point impact categories analyzed
  4. Cell Fabrication method: Siemens technology
  5. Functional unit: multi Si of 1kW
  6. Gave references for material inventories for PV cells
  7. Gave a table of input and output inventory for Poly-Si production

A comparative life-cycle assessment of photovoltaic electricity generation in Singapore by multicrystalline silicon technologies[edit | edit source]

A comparative life-cycle assessment of photovoltaic electricity generation in Singapore by multicrystalline silicon technologies

  • Citation

Luo W, Khoo YS, Kumar A, Low JSC, Li Y, Tan YS, et al. A comparative life-cycle assessment of photovoltaic electricity generation in Singapore by multicrystalline silicon technologies. Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 2018;174:157–62. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solmat.2017.08.040.


  • Abstract

This paper presents a comparative life-cycle assessment of photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation in Singapore by various p-type multicrystalline silicon (multi-Si) PV technologies. We consider the entire value chain of PV from the mining of silica sand to the PV system installation. Energy payback time (EPBT) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are used as indicators for evaluating the environmental impacts of PV electricity generation. Three roof-integrated PV systems using different p-type multi-Si PV technologies (cell or module) are investigated: (1) Al-BSF (aluminum back surface field) solar cells with the conventional module structure (i.e. glass/encapsulant/cell/encapsulant/backsheet); (2) PERC (passivated emitter and rear cell) devices with the conventional module structure; and (3) PERC solar cells with the frameless double-glass module structure (i.e. glass/encapsulant/cell/encapsulant/glass). The EPBTs for (1) to (3) are 1.11, 1.08 and 1.01 years, respectively, while their GHG emissions are 30.2, 29.2 and 20.9g CO2-eq/kWh, respectively. Our study shows that shifting from the conventional Al-BSF cell technology to the state-of-the-art PERC cell technology will reduce the EPBT and GHG emissions for PV electricity generation. It also illustrates that mitigating light-induced degradation is critical for the PERC technology to maintain its environmental advantages over the conventional Al-BSF technology. Finally, our study also demonstrates that long-term PV module reliability has great impacts on the environmental performance of PV technologies. The environmental benefits (in terms of EPBT and GHG emissions) of PV electricity generation can be significantly enhanced by using frameless double-glass PV module design.

  • Key Takeaways:
  1. Compared different Multi-Si PV technologies in Singapore
  2. EPBT and GHG emission were used
  3. Material bill and energy requirement for manufacture provided for Multi-Si PV

Is floating photovoltaic better than conventional photovoltaic? Assessing environmental impacts[edit | edit source]

Is floating photovoltaic better than conventional photovoltaic? Assessing environmental impacts

  • Citation

Silva GDPD, Branco DAC. Is floating photovoltaic better than conventional photovoltaic? Assessing environmental impacts. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal 2018;36:390–400. https://doi.org/10.1080/14615517.2018.1477498.

  • Abstract

Photovoltaic (PV) solar energy installations are growing all over the world as a promising renewable alternative to generate electricity. However, many studies have highlighted some drawbacks associated with the installation and operation of conventional solar energy power plants. Thus, floating photovoltaic (FPV) systems have been emerging as a new concept in solar energy to lessen negative environmental impacts caused by allocation of conventional PV facilities. This paper is an overview of the potential negative and positive environmental impacts caused by photovoltaic systems with particular interest on large-scale conventional and floating photovoltaic. This study addresses and compares the impacts at all phases of project implementation, which covers planning, construction, and operation and decommissioning, focusing on ambient located in the tropics. The overall impacts associated with project allocation such as deforestation (for the project implementation and site accessing), bird mortality, erosion, runoff, and change in microclimate are expected to have higher magnitudes for the implementation of conventional PV facilities. The results highlight advantages of FPV over conventional PV during the operational and decommissioning phases as well. Though, further studies are required to assess both qualitative and quantitative aspects of installations in similar areas.

  • Key Takeaways:
  1. Constraints associated with solar energy: land requirement, bird mortality, loss of wildlife habitat, visual pollution, use of chemicals to clean panel, water depletion.
  2. Floating PV can offset impacts such as deforestation, loss of habitat, and water depletion
  3. Most studies on FPV impact focus on water evaporation
  4. Studied impact of PV and FPV for all phases of project implementation in a place without snow days
  5. Land requirement of solar PV system: 2.2 - 12.2 acres/MW
  6. Listed land use impacts of land-base PV
  7. FPV prevents evaporation (Dupraz et al. 2011; Dinesh and Pearce 2016)
  8. Little research on environmental impact of FPV (Grippo et al. 2015)
  9. Nest boxes to minimize impact on bird life (Guerin 2017b)
  10. Spacing used to minimize negative effects of oxygen loss
  11. PV impacts are site specific
  12. FPV has clear advantages on conventional PV but more study need to be perform.
  13. Interesting list of future works

Simulation of performance differences between offshore and land-based photovoltaic systems[edit | edit source]

Simulation of performance differences between offshore and land-based photovoltaic systems

  • Citation

Golroodbari SZ, Sark W van. Simulation of performance differences between offshore and land-based photovoltaic systems. Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications 2020;28:873–86. https://doi.org/10.1002/pip.3276.

  • Abstract

The purpose of this study is to model, simulate, and compare the performance of a photovoltaics system on land and at sea. To be able to have a fair comparison the effect of sea waves, wind speed and relative humidity are considered in this model. The sea waves are modeled in the frequency domain, using a wave spectrum. The irradiation on a tilted surface for a floating system is calculated considering the tilt angle that is affected by the sea waves. Moreover, the temperature is estimated based on heat transfer theory and the natural cooling system for both floating and land-based photovoltaic systems. Actual measured weather data from two different locations, one located at Utrecht University campus and the other one on the North Sea, are used to simulate the systems, thus making the comparison possible. Energy yield is calculated for these weather conditions. The results show that the relative annual average output energy is about 12.96% higher at sea compared with land. However, in some months, this relative output energy increases up to 18% higher energy yield at sea.

  • Key Takeaways:
  1. Studied FPV systems with measured data on sea
  2. FPV saves land that may be useful for agriculture
  3. FPV benefit form cooling from water
  4. FPV have less shading obstacles and dust
  5. Classified FPV systems in 4 groups depending on their floating structures:(i) thin film (light support material); (ii) submerged (with or without pontoon); (iii) tilted (rigid pontoons); (iv) Microencapsulated phase-change material based pontoon (new approach)
  6. FPV reduces water evaporation
  7. FPV decreases algal growth
  8. Developed a FPV model on sea surface accounting for wave impact on inclination

Design and construction of a test bench to investigate the potential of floating PV systems[edit | edit source]

Design and construction of a test bench to investigate the potential of floating PV systems

  • Citation

El Hammoumi A, Chalh A, Allouhi A, Motahhir S, El Ghzizal A, Derouich A. Design and construction of a test bench to investigate the potential of floating PV systems. Journal of Cleaner Production 2021;278:123917. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.123917.

  • Abstract

Floating photovoltaic systems (FPVSs) are a modern concept for clean energy generation, which combine the existing PV systems with a floating structure. Such a combination enables achieving a higher efficiency of PV modules and a best management of land resources which ensures meeting energy requirements more effectively. In this paper, an experimental investigation of a small-scale FPVS is presented. It is designed and built for research and demonstration purposes as a first attempt to analyze this concept under Moroccan operating conditions. The objective is to analyze and compare the electrical and thermal performances of an FPVS with those of an overland PV system (OPVS) with a similar nominal capacity. To do this, a test bench consisting of FPVS and OPVS and measurement station has been proposed and established. The design and construction aspects of the FPVS, as well as the experimental setup of the entire test bench, are extensively described in this paper. The test results show that the average temperature of the FPV modules, during the test period, was always lower compared to that of the OPV modules with a difference of up to 2.74 °C. This means that FPVS can benefit from the natural cooling effect of water and operate with higher efficiency as compared to OPVS. It was also found that the FPVS generates up to 2.33% more daily energy than the OPVS. Further, an experimental test was also performed in this work to compare the energy production of FPVS under different tilt angles. The test result confirms that the FPVS produces the highest energy when it is installed at the annual optimal tilt angle. Hence, adjusting the PV modules at their optimal tilt angle is recommended as well for FPVSs.

  • Key Takeaways:
  1. Experimental study on FPV panels
  2. Found that FPV benefit of a cooling effect
  3. FPV have increased energy generation
  4. FPV performed better when inclined at optimal tilt

Recent technical advancements, economics and environmental impacts of floating photovoltaic solar energy conversion systems[edit | edit source]

Recent technical advancements, economics and environmental impacts of floating photovoltaic solar energy conversion systems

  • Citation

Gorjian S, Sharon H, Ebadi H, Kant K, Scavo FB, Tina GM. Recent technical advancements, economics and environmental impacts of floating photovoltaic solar energy conversion systems. Journal of Cleaner Production 2021;278:124285. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.124285.

  • Abstract

Floating Photovoltaic (FPV) is an emerging technology that has experienced significant growth in the renewable energy market since 2016. It is estimated that technical improvements along with governmental initiatives will promote the growth rate of this technology over 31% in 2024. This study comprehensively reviews the floating photovoltaic (FPV) solar energy conversion technology by deep investigating the technical advancements and presenting a deliberate discussion on the comparison between floating and ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) systems. Also, the economics and environmental impacts of FPV plants are presented by introducing the main challenges and prospects. The FPV plants can be conventionally installed on water bodies/dam reservoirs or be implemented as multipurpose systems to produce simultaneous food and power. Installing FPV modules over water reservoirs can prevent evaporation but penetration of solar radiation still remains an issue that can be eliminated by employing bifacial PV modules. The salt deposition in off-shore plants and algae-bloom growth are other important issues that can degrade modules over time and adversely affect the aquatic ecosystem. The capital expenditure (CAPEX) for FPV systems is about 25% higher than ground-mounted plants, mainly due to the existence of floats, moorings, and anchors. It has been stated that the capacity increase of FPV plants (ranges from 52 kW to 2 MW) can intensely decrease the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) up to 85%. It is estimated that FPV technology can become more affordable in the future by further research, developments, and progress in both technology and materials.

  • Key Takeaways:
  1. Provided different methods for the calculation of water evaporation saving of FPV
  2. Discussed economical and environmental impacts of FPV systems
  3. Positive environmental impact of FPV:
    1. Silent operation
    2. Algae growth reduction
    3. No CO2 emissions
    4. Water saving
    5. Less water use for cleaning
    6. Land saving
    7. Reduction in bird collision with panels
    8. Water quality improvement
  4. Operation phase impacts of FPV are yet to be quantified
  5. Chemicals use in land-based panel cleaning are toxic to the environment: they need to be change for FPV
  6. FPV can help reduce eutrophication
  7. Estimated the levelized cost (LCOE) of FPV systems

Field experience and performance analysis of floating PV technologies in the tropics[edit | edit source]

Field experience and performance analysis of floating PV technologies in the tropics

  • Citation

Liu H, Krishna V, Leung JL, Reindl T, Zhao L. Field experience and performance analysis of floating PV technologies in the tropics. Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications 2018;26:957–67. https://doi.org/10.1002/pip.3039.

  • Abstract

The interest in floating photovoltaic (FPV) power plants has grown rapidly in recent years. In many established and emerging markets, such as Japan, South Korea, UK, China, and India, FPV is already considered as an attractive and viable option for PV deployment. In 2016, Singapore launched the world's largest FPV testbed, with a total installed capacity close to 1 MWp. This testbed aims to study the economic and technical feasibility, as well as the environmental impacts of deploying large-scale FPV systems on inland fresh water reservoirs. The testbed currently consists of 8 systems, with different configurations in terms of PV modules, inverters, and floating structures. The field experience of deploying, operating, and maintaining these systems, together with a comparison of their performance and reliability offers highly valuable learning points for the FPV community. In this work, we present extensive, high-quality field measurement data; compare operating environments on water and on a rooftop; analyze system performance of different FPV systems; and share some issues encountered. We found that FPV does confer some performance benefits, but best practices should also be established to avoid new issues and pitfalls associated with deploying PV on water.

  • Key Takeaways:
  1. Listed several advantages of FPV
    1. No or reduced land usage
    2. Reduction in temperature loss
    3. Less shading
    4. Less soiling due to dusts
    5. Grid access
    6. Complementary operation with hydro
    7. Environmental benefit
    8. Reduction of evaporation loss
    9. Rich application scenarios
    10. Huge market potential

A review of floating photovoltaic installations: 2007–2013[edit | edit source]

A review of floating photovoltaic installations: 2007–2013

  • Citation

Trapani K, Santafé MR. A review of floating photovoltaic installations: 2007–2013. Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications 2015;23:524–32. https://doi.org/10.1002/pip.2466.

  • Abstract

The paper gives a review of the various projects that have been realised in throughout the years. These have all been in enclosed water bodies such as reservoirs, ponds and small lakes. The main motivation for the floating photovoltaic (PV) panels was the land premium, especially for agricultural sites were the land was more valuable for growth of the crops (in these cases, grapes because the sites were wineries). The PV panels of the existing projects are mounted on a rigid pontoon structure and vary between horizontal and tilted installations. Future concepts proposed for marine and large lacusterine sites are envisaged to incorporate laminated thin film PV, which would allow the structure to be flexible and able to yield with the oncoming waves, and submergible arrays, which would be submerged in harsh weather conditions. Interest and research has been developing in this niche field throughout the years and has currently reached the megawatt scale with even bigger plans for the future. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

  • Key Takeaways:
  1. Summarized FPV installations worldwide from 2007-2013
  2. FPV used for water savings

Aquavoltaics: Synergies for dual use of water area for solar photovoltaic electricity generation and aquaculture[edit | edit source]

Aquavoltaics: Synergies for dual use of water area for solar photovoltaic electricity generation and aquaculture

  • Citation

Pringle AM, Handler RM, Pearce JM. Aquavoltaics: Synergies for dual use of water area for solar photovoltaic electricity generation and aquaculture. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 2017;80:572–84. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2017.05.191.

  • Abstract

Bodies of water provide essentials for both human society as well as natural ecosystems. To expand the services this water provides, hybrid food-energy-water systems can be designed. This paper reviews the fields of floatovoltaic (FV) technology (water deployed solar photovoltaic systems) and aquaculture (farming of aquatic organisms) to investigate the potential of hybrid floatovoltaic-aquaculture synergistic applications for improving food-energy-water nexus sustainability. The primary motivation for combining electrical energy generation with aquaculture is to promote the dual use of water, which has historically high unused potential. Recent advances in FV technology using both pontoon and thin film structures provides significant flexibility in deployment in a range of water systems. Solar generated electricity provides off-grid aquaculture potential. In addition, several other symbiotic relationships are considered including an increase in power conversion efficiency due to the cooling and cleaning of module surfaces, a reduction in water surface evaporation rates, ecosystem redevelopment, and improved fish growth rates through integrated designs using FV-powered pumps to control oxygenation levels as well as LED lighting. The potential for a solar photovoltaic-aquaculture or aquavoltaic ecology was found to be promising. If a U.S. national average value of solar flux is used then current aquaculture surface areas in use, if incorporated with appropriate solar technology could account for 10.3% of total U.S. energy consumption as of 2016.

  • Key Takeaways:
  1. Water evaporation reduction by FPV
  2. FPV equals reduced land use

Life Cycle Inventories and Life Cycle Assessments of Photovoltaic Systems[edit | edit source]

Life Cycle Inventories and Life Cycle Assessments of Photovoltaic Systems

  • Citation

Frischknecht R, Itten R, Sinha P, de Wild-Scholten M, Zhang J, Fthenakis V, et al. Life Cycle Inventories and Life Cycle Assessment of Photovoltaic Systems. New York, USA: International Energy Agency; 2015.

  • Abstract

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a structured, comprehensive method of quantifying material-and energy-flows and their associated impacts in the life cycles of products (i.e., goods and services). One of the major goals of IEA PVPS Task 12 is to provide guidance on assuring consistency, balance,transparency and quality of LCA to enhance the credibility and reliability of the results. The current report presents the latest consensus LCA results among the authors, PV LCA experts in North America, Europe and Asia. At this time consensus is limited to four technologies for which they are well-established and up-to-date LCI data: mono-and multi-crystalline Si, CdTe and high concentration PV (HCPV) using III/V cells. The LCA indicators shown herein include Energy Payback Times (EPBT), Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG), criteria pollutant emissions, and heavy metal emissions. Life Cycle Inventories(LCIs) are necessary for LCA and the availability of such data is often the greatest barrier for conducting LCA. The Task 12 LCA experts have put great efforts in gathering and compiling the LCI data presented in this report.These include detailed inputs and outputs during manufacturing of cell, wafer, module, and balance-of-system (i.e., structural-and electrical-components)that were estimated from actual production and operation facilities. In addition to the LCI data that support the LCA results presented herein, data are presented to enable analyses of various types of PV installations; these include operational data of rooftop and ground-mount PV systems and country-specific PV-mixes. The LCI datasets presented in this report are the latest that are available to the public describing the status of 2005-2006 for crystalline Si, 2008 for CdTe, and 2010 for HCPV technology.

  • Key Takeaways:
  1. Details on the Life Cycle Inventory of a solar panel as well as balance of system.
  2. Data was obtained form industry
  3. Input and output data provided for manufacture phase

Evaluation of Factors Governing the Use of Floating Solar System: A Study on Iran's Important Water Infrastructures[edit | edit source]

Evaluation of Factors Governing the Use of Floating Solar System: A Study on Iran's Important Water Infrastructures

  • Citation

Fereshtehpour M, Sabbaghian RJ, Farrokhi A, Jovein EB, Sarindizaj EE. Evaluation of Factors Governing the Use of Floating Solar System: A Study on Iran’s Important Water Infrastructures. Renewable Energy 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2020.12.005.


  • Abstract

The issue of water and energy crisis has been turned into global matters which need to be tackled jointly. Floating solar power plants, in which photovoltaic modules are used on the surface of water infrastructures, has recently been attracting much interest. In addition to energy generation, this system provides some additional advantages over the land-based system such as conserving the land and the water and increasing the efficiency of the module. This study first comprehensively reviews the literature and then proposes a practical framework to evaluate the potential of using floating solar photovoltaic (FSPV) taking important factors into account. To this end, as a specific application of the proposed framework, five important dam reservoirs in Iran are selected, and the performance of the FSPV plant is analyzed in terms of energy generation, evaporation reduction, economic and environmental factors considering different coverage percentages of reservoir’s surfaces. Based on the cost-benefit analysis, results showed the FSPV outperforms other alternatives for energy generation and water-saving. It takes 5∼6 years for the investment cost to be returned. Given Iran's vast potential for solar radiation, and its huge energy demand and critical water situation, results indicated that Iran can effectively harness solar energy through FSPV systems which help conserve the water in addition to support sustainable energy production.

  • Key Takeaways:

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