In this study DNV GL has analyzed and compared the environmental impacts of photovoltaic renewable production (PV), considering decentralised Rooftop Solar PV Generation (DG) and Centralised Solar PV Generation (CG).
To carry out this comparison, DNV GL has applied the life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology, describing and evaluating the total environmental impacts in solar PV for the full chain of activities (raw material processing->manufacturing->operation->maintenance->decommissioning). In Life Cycle Assessment methodology, commonly identified impacts are Climate Change or Stratospheric Ozone Depletion (ODP), as well as other impacts such as eco-toxicity, acidification, etc. In order to make the environmental impacts comparison similar for both PV technologies all impacts are related to the MWhe functional unit.
The main conclusion is that, the environmental impacts of Decentralised Generation (DG) are higher than Centralised Generation (CG), except in the of Land Use impact (clearly higher in CG generation), as a result of the higher achievable production of the PV in CG, based on the technology available nowadays. Sensitivity cases considering improvements in the DG PV production per m2, mounting structure materials and power grid losses scenarios (that varies depending on the network topology of the target country) have been analyzed.
Environmental Impact Study
Comparative study: centralised versus decentralised generation.