Economic assessment of solar electricity production from organic-based photovoltaic modules in a domestic environment
The primary driver for development of organic photovoltaic (OPV) technologies is the prospect of very low cost module manufacture leading to affordable solar electricity. This paper presents an economic assessment of OPV based on an existing pre-industrial manufacturing process and the associated detailed material inventory. Using life cycle costing techniques, the life cycle investment cost for a 1kWp, grid-connected OPV system is calculated, taking into account the materials, direct process energy, labour, balance of system components, design and maintenance costs. Assuming values for the performance ratio of the PV system, insolation level, inflation and interest rates, the levelised electricity cost (LEC) is calculated. Under an average solar irradiance of 1700 kWh/m2/year, typical of southern Europe, a LEC of between 0.19 €/kWh and 0.50 €/kWh was calculated for a 1kWp system, based on modules containing 7% efficient cells and assuming a 5 year module lifetime. The OPV module is found to make up the majority of the system cost while the material costs constitute the largest contribution to the cost of the OPV module. The influence of OPV module lifetime is studied using sensitivity. This paper demonstrates that competitive solar electricity from OPV is within reach if efficiencies of ca. 7% already demonstrated in lab scale devices can be achieved in large area modules and if lifetimes of at least 5 years can be achieved.