Whole Life Carbon of Photovoltaic Installations Report Released

Elementa Consulting, a member of Integral Group, and Willmott Dixon launched a new study investigating the embodied and operational carbon impact of roof-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) installations.

Rooftop solar PV is required if the grid is to be successfully decarbonized, playing a significant part in the government’s journey to meet the United Kingdom’s climate targets.

Combining expertise from Integral Group Global Lead of Sustainable Innovation, Louise Hamot, and mechanical engineer, Tom Burgess, alongside Willmott Dixon’s building performance manager, Doug Drewniak, this study frames a discussion on the most relevant metric for making decisions in the installation of PV.

Rooftop solar PVs are needed to decarbonize our grid, therefore we need to understand the associated embodied carbon implications and identify any opportunities to improve the technology’s impact. Most existing studies looking at the embodied carbon impact of PV typically only include the modules themselves, but we have covered the entire installation process across different design scenarios. Louise Hamot, Global Lead of Sustainable Innovation, Integral Group

The new report explores the interplay between the embodied carbon impact and operational carbon savings for various roof-mounted PV system installations, providing much-needed guidance on how to measure the efficiency of the technology.

Our paper explores the interplay between the embodied carbon impact and operational carbon savings over time, which is really interesting as it shifts the focus from PV being a carbon offset mechanism to building additional renewable capacity in the grid. While all tested scenarios found a net benefit over the systems’ lifetime, project-specific design and specification decisions can have a big impact. This report provides the guidance to optimise PV installations, whilst measuring the effectiveness of the technology from a whole life carbon standpoint. Doug Drewniak, Building Performance Manager, Willmott Dixon

Through the implementation of embodied carbon assessments, these emissions can be minimized using intelligent design and project-specific adjustments.