Utilizing of photovoltaics (PVs) has been rapidly developing over the past two decades due to its potential for transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy based economies. However, PVs as fuel less energy sources will be sustainable if some issues such as raw materials abundance, production cost, and environmental impacts carefully addressed in their value chains. Among PV technologies, thin film solar panels have been illustrated the potential to reach the sustainability. In this chapter we review some studies about environmental impacts of thin film PVs through life cycle assessment (LCA) and some environmental fate modeling. For the PV technologies, LCA studies need to be conducted to address environmental and energy impacts and encourage the development of PV technologies in a better sustainable way. Three methods of impact assessment in LCA are reviewed and compared, namely, Energy Payback Time (EPBT), Cumulative Energy Demand (CED), and Greenhouse Gases (GHG) emission rate, owing to data and information published in the literature. Generally, most results show promising potential of emerging thin film PVs, especially perovskite solar cells, to reach the best sustainable solution among PV technologies in near future.
Part of the book: Reliability and Ecological Aspects of Photovoltaic Modules