Environmental Impact Analysis of Solar Power Generation Process Using Multicrystalline and Amorphous Silicon Solar Cells in Thailand

Wasin Khaenson, Somchai Maneewan, Chantana Punlek


This paper presents the results of the environmental impact assessment into two different technologies for the production of solar power in Thailand. It considers mass and energy flows over the whole power generation process and compares two types of silicon solar cell; multicrystalline and amorphous. The process operations that make up the system are the solar cell array, inverter stations, transformer stations, a control center and substations. This study also examines the economic feasibility of such power stations, by analyzing their investment costs and the internal rate of return (IRR). After analyzing the results, 1 kWh of solar power generation was found to have an impact upon both human health and ecosystem quality, whilst resource depletion was unaffected. When the overall impact was compared against the non-renewable power generating technologies of natural gas, combined cycle and coal-fired power stations, solar energy was found to have an appreciably lower environmental impact, with the multicrystalline plant having the lowest impact of all. However, the economic analysis revealed that, despite their low environmental cost, under the present market conditions both solar power technologies are not financially viable.


Amorphous silicon; life cycle assessment; multicrystalline silicon; solar cell power plant

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