Field installation versus local integration of photovoltaic systems and their effect on energy evaluation metrics

Suleiman A. Halasah, David Pearlmutter, Daniel Feuermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


In this study we employ Life-Cycle Assessment to evaluate the energy-related impacts of photovoltaic systems at different scales of integration, in an arid region with especially high solar irradiation. Based on the electrical output and embodied energy of a selection of fixed and tracking systems and including concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) and varying cell technology, we calculate a number of energy evaluation metrics, including the energy payback time (EPBT), energy return factor (ERF), and life-cycle CO2 emissions offset per unit aperture and land area. Studying these metrics in the context of a regionally limited setting, it was found that utilizing existing infrastructure such as existing building roofs and shade structures does significantly reduce the embodied energy requirements (by 20-40%) and in turn the EPBT of flat-plate PV systems due to the avoidance of energy-intensive balance of systems (BOS) components like foundations. Still, high-efficiency CPV field installations were found to yield the shortest EPBT, the highest ERF and the largest life-cycle CO2 offsets-under the condition that land availability is not a limitation. A greater life-cycle energy return and carbon offset per unit land area is yielded by locally-integrated non-concentrating systems, despite their lower efficiency per unit module area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)462-471
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy Policy
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • Building-integrated photovoltaics
  • Life-cycle energy assessment
  • Solar energy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Energy
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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