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Applying an environmental life-cycle approach to a silicon photovoltaic system

Frost, Sean (2009) Applying an environmental life-cycle approach to a silicon photovoltaic system. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is potentially an important decision support tool for the energy sector. This paper explores the effectiveness of the use of LCA in assessing the environmental impacts of photovoltaic (PV) systems, and the value in doing so. LCAs can be used to compare the relative environmental impacts of different products or industrial processes (such as PV-sourced electricity generation), but LCAs generally don’t compare the significance of measured impact levels relative to absolute limits for resource depletion, harmful emissions, and other impacts. In addition, LCAs use varying numbers and types of indicators, sometimes introducing non-scientific value judgements by weighting and aggregating the results. Regardless of these limitations, LCAs sometimes purport to provide a complete environmental assessment and are sometimes regarded as ‘scientific’ in all aspects. In promoting their use, it is important to understand the limitations of environmental accounting methods.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Energy
Supervisor(s): Pryor, Trevor and Lund, Christopher
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