Life-cycle costs and emissions of pareto-optimal residential roof-mounted photovoltaic systems

Thomas P. Hendrickson, Arpad Horvath, Samer M. Madanat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research has separately existed for life-cycle costs and environmental assessment of photovoltaic systems. This study provides a framework for the identification of the optimal set of residential photovoltaic system options in terms of costs and selected air emissions by assessing the life cycle of the product from manufacturing to disposal. Analyzed air emissions include carbon, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter. The study focuses on general residential installations within the San Francisco Bay Area of California. Pareto frontiers are determined for costs and emissions, and the best options for suppliers are identified in each case, including sensitivity analysis of the installation planning horizon. Choosing multicrystalline silicon modules over thin film modules has the greatest impact on cost reduction. The electricity mix with which the modules are produced has the greatest impact on the emissions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-314
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Infrastructure Systems
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013


  • Carbon dioxide
  • Criteria air pollutants
  • Life-cycle assessment
  • Life-cycle costs
  • Renewable energy
  • Solar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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