A life cycle analysis of polymer solar cell modules prepared using roll-to-roll methods under ambient conditions

Nieves Espinosa Martinez, Rafael García-Valverde, Antonio Urbina, Frederik C Krebs

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    A life cycle analysis was performed on a full roll-to-roll coating procedure used for the manufacture of flexible polymer solar cell modules. The process known as ProcessOne employs a polyester substrate with a sputtered layer of the transparent conductor indium-tin-oxide (ITO). The ITO film was processed into the required pattern using a full roll-to-roll process, employing screen printing of an etch resist and then applying etching, stripping, washing and drying procedures. The three subsequent layers; ZnO, P3HT:PCBM and PEDOT:PSS were slot-die coated and the silver back electrode was screen printed. Finally the polymer solar modules were encapsulated, using a polyester barrier material. All operations except the application of ITO were carried out under ambient conditions. The life cycle analysis delivered a material inventory of the full process for a module production, and an accountability of the energy embedded both in the input materials and in the production processes. Finally, upon assumption of power conversion efficiencies and lifetime for the modules, a calculation of energy pay-back time allowed us to compare this roll-to-roll manufacturing with other organic and hybrid photovoltaic technologies. The results showed that an Energy Pay-Back Time (EPBT) of 2.02 years can be achieved for an organic solar module of 2% efficiency, which could be reduced to 1.35 years, if the efficiency was 3%.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalSolar Energy Materials & Solar Cells
    Issue number5
    Pages (from-to)1293-1302
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Bibliographical note

    This work was supported by the Danish Strategic Research
    Council (DSF2104-05-0052 and 2104-07-0022), EUDP
    (j. nr.64009-0050), by the Spanish Ministry of Science and
    Innovation (Consolider-HOPECSD2007-00007), by Comunidad
    Autonoma dela Region de Murcia(CARM-D429-2008) and
    Antonio Urbina wants to acknowledge financial support from
    Fundacion Seneca de Murcia (exp.14898/EE10/10).


    • Polymer solar cells
    • Solar energy


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