Life cycle assessment and cost analysis of very large-scale PV systems and suitable locations in the world

Masakazu Ito*, Sylvain Lespinats, Jens Merten, Philippe Malbranche, Kosuke Kurokawa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Although the Sahara region has a high potential for solar power plants, the amount of installed photovoltaic (PV) system remains relatively low. This paper aims to evaluate these potentials of PV system installation in terms of environmental and economic viewpoints with indices of cost, energy, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission. Two 1-GW very large-scale PV systems are simulated at Ouarzazate in Morocco and at Carpentras in France. The evaluation was performed using life cycle assessment. The lowest energy consumption and GHG emission are obtained while assuming cadmium telluride module. The result of our simulation shows that energy payback time is 0.9 years and CO2 emission rate is 27.4 g-CO2-eq/kWh in the Ouarzazate case. In cost estimation, generation costs are 0.06 USD/kWh in Ouarzazate and 0.09 USD/kWh in Carpentras in the case of 3% interest rate and 0.5 USD/W for multicrystalline silicon PV module price. In addition, by adapting 15% internal rate of return for 20% of budget, the generation costs become 0.09 USD/kWh in Ouarzazate and 0.13 USD/kWh in Carpentras under the same condition. Furthermore, the selection for suitable locations to install solar power plants in term of GHG emission is identified using geographical information system. Very high-potential locations (lower than 38 g-CO2-eq/kWh) could be obtained in North Chili, east and west Sahara, and Mexico.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-174
Number of pages16
JournalProgress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Feb 1
Externally publishedYes


  • CO emission rate
  • cost
  • energy payback time
  • GIS
  • greenhouse gas
  • LCA
  • very large-scale PV systems
  • VLS-PV

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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