Scores:
12
MNiSW
120.94
ICV
 
 

A COMPARISON OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF SOLAR POWER GENERATION USING MULTICRYSTALLINE SILICON AND THIN FILM OF AMORPHOUS SILICON SOLAR CELLS: CASE STUDY IN THAILAND

Wasin Khaenson 1  ,  
Somchai Maneewan 1  ,  
 
1
Department of Physics, Faculty of Science, Naresuan University, Phitsanulok, 65000, Thailand
J. Ecol. Eng. 2017; 18(4):1–14
Publish date: 2017-07-01
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ABSTRACT:
This paper studies the environmental impact of two different forms of solar power generation in Thailand - that of multicrystalline silicon solar cells, and that of thin film amorphous silicon solar cells. It takes as its study two of the largest solar cell power plants of their kind in Thailand; a multicrystalline silicon plant in the north (generating 90 MW) and a thin film amorphous silicon plant in the centre (generating 55 MW). The Life Cycle Assessment tool (LCA) was used to assess the environmental impact of each stage of the process, from the manufacture of the cells, through to their transportation, installation and eventual recycling. The functional unit of the study was the generation of 1 kWh of power transmitted and distributed by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) and Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA). The environmental impact results were calculated in terms of eco-points (Pt) per functional unit of 1 kWh. The characterised data for 1 kWh of solar power generation was then compared with data for 1 kWh of combined cycle and thermal power generation (both in Thailand), using the same set of characterisation factors. After analyzing the results, both forms of solar power energy generation were found to impact upon the studied categories of Human Health, Ecosystem Quality and Resource Depletion, whilst also highlighting the importance of the solar cell module recycling process in decreasing the overall environmental impact. When the two solar cell technologies were compared, the overall impact of the multicrystalline silicon solar cell was found to be higher than that of the thin film amorphous silicon solar cell. Furthermore, when assessing the overall impact against non-renewable power generating technologies such as combined cycle and thermal power generation, the thin film amorphous silicon solar cells were found to have the lowest environmental impact of all technologies studied.
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR:
Wasin Khaenson   
Department of Physics, Faculty of Science, Naresuan University, Phitsanulok, 65000, Thailand