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Title: Assessing the potential for photovoltaic technology to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions : life cycle analysis and energy systems modelling for electricity access in rural India
Author: Sandwell, Philip Richard
ISNI:       0000 0004 7229 444X
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2018
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Solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies are becoming increasingly accessible as a source of reliable, sustainable and affordable electricity. Cost decreases and manufacturing improvements have meant that energy generated from PV is a viable alternative to fossil fuel generation, whilst also offering a significant potential to offset the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from incumbent energy sources. In this work I investigate the potential of PV technologies to mitigate GHGs with a focus on the application of PV towards rural electrification in India. I present the costs and emissions associated with the deployment of mature and emerging PV technologies in minigrid electricity systems and compare their impacts with those of incumbent diesel generation and the extension of the grid network, identifying the scenarios which favour PV minigrids. I also present the life cycle analysis of a new design of concentrating PV module, and its opportunities to mitigate GHGs in various locations around the world, finding that it can offer emissions intensities lower than other renewable technologies. I analyse the current levels of energy access of communities in rural Uttar Pradesh, India and find that there is a significant opportunity to mitigate GHG emissions from kerosene usage. I also present an estimation of the potential future energy demand that would provide them with electricity access. I describe a new framework for energy systems modelling, CLOVER, that simulates and optimises minigrid systems which can increase in generation capacity in response to growing levels of electricity demand. I apply this framework to minigrid systems in Uttar Pradesh and find that PV systems which offer opportunities for economic development can provide electricity at both a lower cost and lower GHG emissions than either diesel generation or hybrid systems. Finally, I identify the greatest opportunities for PV minigrid system to provide affordable electricity and mitigate GHGs.
Supervisor: Nelson, Jenny ; Ekins-Daukes, Ned Sponsor: Imperial College London
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral