Energy and environmental impacts of Energy related products (ErP): a case study of biomass-fuelled systems

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Abstract

Energy-related Products (ErP) account for a large proportion of European energy and natural resourceconsumption. In 2007, ErP were responsible for the consumption of about 239 Mtoe of electricity andabout 555 Mtoe of fuels.In order to reduce the energy and environmental impacts of these products, the European Commissionpublished the Directive 2009/125/EC on the eco-design of ErP. This Directive represents a key componentof European policy for improving the energy and environmental performances of products in the internalmarket.In this context, it is important to develop scientific research aimed at assessing the energy andenvironmental impacts of ErP, and at defining their eco-design criteria. In fact, the European Commissionestimated that, in 2020, the application of eco-design for ErP could save about 32 Mtoe of electricity,which represents more than 12% of the final 2009 electricity consumption in Europe.Among the ErP, an important share of the market is comprised of solid fuel appliances (includingbiomass boilers), which, in 2007, reached sales of 313,000 units in Europe, and of micro-cogenerationsystems, of which worldwide sales, in 2008, were 22,700 units.In the context of the above Directive, the paper presents the results of a Life Cycle Assessment appliedto two biomass fuelled systems: 1) a system constituted by a biomass boiler that produces thermalenergy for heating and domestic hot water; and 2) a micro-combined heat and power system, comprisedof a biomass boiler and electricity equipment that generate heat and electricity.The main goal of the study is to compare the energy and environmental performance of the twosystems, and to identify the life-cycle steps of the systems that are characterized by the higher impacts.The selected functional unit is 1 GJ of net thermal energy produced by each examined system.The results show that system 1) causes higher impacts than system 2), in which heat and electricity areproduced. For both systems, the operation step is responsible for about 97e99% of the total primaryenergy consumption, and contributes to environmental impacts by more than 71%.The obtained results can be used as an environmental ‘knowledge basis’ for the assessment of theenergy and environmental performances of biomass boilers and micro-cogeneration systems, theidentification of improvement solutions and the definition of eco-design criteria
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-370
Number of pages12
JournalJOURNAL OF CLEANER PRODUCTION
Volume85
Publication statusPublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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