Environmental impacts of integrated photovoltaic modules in light utility electric vehicles

Olga Kanz (Corresponding author), Angèle Reinders, Johanna May, Kaining Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a life cycle assessment (LCA) of photovoltaic (PV) solar modules which have been integrated into electric vehicle applications, also called vehicle integrated photovoltaics (VIPV). The LCA was executed by means of GaBi LCA software with Ecoinvent v2.2 as a background database, with a focus on the global warming potential (GWP). A light utility electric vehicle (LUV) named StreetScooter Work L, with a PV array of 930 Wp, was analyzed for the location of Cologne, Germany. An operation time of 8 years and an average shadowing factor of 30% were assumed. The functional unit of this LCA is 1 kWh of generated PV electricity on-board, for which an emission factor of 0.357 kg CO2-eq/kWh was calculated, whereas the average grid emissions would be 0.435 kg CO2-eq/kWh. Hence, charging by PV power hence causes lower emissions than charging an EV by the grid. The study further shows how changes in the shadowing factor, operation time, and other aspects affect vehicle’s emissions. The ecological benefit of charging by PV modules as compared to grid charging is negated when the shadowing factor exceeds 40% and hence exceeds emissions of 0.435 kg CO2-eq/kWh. However, if the operation time of a vehicle with integrated PV is prolonged to 12 years, emissions of the functional unit go down to 0.221 kg CO2-eq/kWh. It is relevant to point out that the outcomes of the LCA study strongly depend on the location of use of the vehicle, the annual irradiation, and the carbon footprint of the grid on that location.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5120
Number of pages13
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • CO emissions
  • Electric vehicles
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Photovoltaic systems
  • VIPV


Dive into the research topics of 'Environmental impacts of integrated photovoltaic modules in light utility electric vehicles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this