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ECN publication
The external costs of electricity generation: A comparison of environmental damage of silicon photovoltaic electricity, produced with different electricity mixes, vs natural gas and coal
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Solar Energy 24-9-2012
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-M--12-054 Conference Paper
Number of pages: Full text:
5 Download PDF  

In this paper the environmental damages of crystalline silicon photovoltaics are calculated, using the most recent photovoltaics data, and compared with those of the prevalent conventional energy technologies. A life cycle assessment of selected environmental impacts of 1kWh of electricity generated by various technologies was performed using Simapro software (version 7.2.4) in conjunction with the Ecoinvent database (version 2.2). The environmental impacts were assessed using the ReCiPe methodology. Because of the important role of coal and natural gas in the global electricity generation portfolio, special attention is given to the comparison of PV with those technologies. The environmental consequences of manufacturing PV modules with renewable, UCTE or 100% coal electricity mixes are explored. A brief update of the estimated monetarization of damages due to coal and climate change is included. A rough estimate of the true cost of coal and PV electricity is made in $2011.

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