Lead Researchers: Professor Jenny Nelson and Dr Paul Fennell

PhD student: Christopher Emmott

solar panels

New energy technologies such as solar power, other renewables, and methods of removing CO2 generated from fossil fuels can reduce the amount of carbon produced during electricity generation. In order to evaluate the contribution different technologies could make to emissions reductions, we need to analyse their energy cost and economic viability. If we do this analysis for a new technology while still in development, we can help to identify the most energy efficient technical options and so maximise the mitigation potential of that technology.

In our research, we have analysed the life cycle averaged energy and economic costs of a pre-commercial photovoltaic technology based on plastic semiconductor materials. We find that by replacing the most energy intensive component with alternatives, both the energy payback time and cost per kWh can be significantly reduced. Energy and electricity costs are further reduced by allowing for projected performance improvements over the development phase. Future research will extend this analysis to other renewable technologies, to location and timing of new technology use, and to marginal abatement cost calculations in order to help optimise the mitigation potential of the technology mix.

In addition to this focus we are also investigating the most economically viable options for industrial emissions mitigation.