Life-cycle analysis of product integrated polymer solar cells

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

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    A life cycle analysis (LCA) on a product integrated polymer solar module is carried out in this study. These assessments are well-known to be useful in developmental stages of a product in order to identify the bottlenecks for the up-scaling in its production phase for several aspects spanning from economics through design to functionality. An LCA study was performed to quantify the energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from electricity use in the manufacture of a light-weight lamp based on a plastic foil, a lithium-polymer battery, a polymer solar cell, printed circuitry, blocking diode, switch and a white light emitting semiconductor diode. The polymer solar cell employed in this prototype presents a power conversion efficiency in the range of 2 to 3% yielding energy payback times (EPBT) in the range of 1.3–2 years. Based on this it is worthwhile to undertake a life-cycle study on the complete product integrated polymer solar cell. We have compared this portable lighting system with other lighting solutions, namely: a kerosene lamp in a remote rural area in Africa (Ethiopia), as a replacement of a silicon PV based lamp, in place of a torch with non-rechargeable lead-acid battery and instead of a battery charging station. The analysis reveals that the OPV lamp has a significant advantage provided that some of the challenges facing this novel technology are efficiently met such that it can enter the market of portable lighting devices.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEnergy & Environmental Science
    Issue number5
    Pages (from-to)1547-1557
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Bibliographical note

    This work was supported by the Danish Strategic Research
    Council (DSF 2104-07-0022), EUDP (j. nr. 64009-0050), by the
    Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (Consolider-HOPE
    CSD2007-00007) and by Comunidad Autonoma de la Region de
    Murcia (CARM-D429-2008).


    • Polymer solar cells


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