This paper evaluates the environmental effects of low power PV lighting products, which are increasingly used in rural areas in South East Asia, by means of a life cycle analysis (LCA). The main goals of the project are to determine (1) the environmental impacts, (2) which parts are contributing to environmental impacts that occur, and (3) the accuracy of an LCA of these PV products. The study is based on an entrepreneurial case in Cambodia. Three PV lighting products with a nominal power of 0.7 Wp, 4.5 Wp and 40 Wp respectively, have been compared with three alternatives for lighting services. The LCA was executed with Simapro software using the Ecoinvent 2.1 database and applying the ReCiPe 2008 method for the impact assessment. An important conclusion of the study is that solar PV lighting products have less environmental impact than conventional lighting solutions, such as lighting services from kerosene lamps and compact fluorescent lamps powered by car batteries. The environmental profile of small size PV lighting products can be improved by approximately 50% by recycling of the batteries. From an evaluation of the accuracy of an LCA of PV lighting products, it can be concluded that impacts of these PV lighting products are lower or comparable to those of lighting by compact fluorescent lights powered by electricity from the grid in the South East Asian context. As such, they offer an environmentally beneficial lighting service for off-grid households.
Durlinger, B., Durlinger, B. P. J., Reinders, A. H. M. E., & Toxopeus, M. E. (2012). A comparative life cycle analysis of low power PV lighting products for rural areas in South East Asia. Renewable energy, 41, 96-104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2011.10.006