Solar heating and cooling systems versus conventional systems assisted by photovoltaic: Application of a simplified LCA tool

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Abstract

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is an effective methodology to assess the energy and environmental impacts of energy systems during their life cycle, including manufacturing, operation and end-of-life.The aim of the paper is the application of a simplified LCA tool, developed in the framework of the International Energy Agency Solar Heating and Cooling Task 48, for comparing different typologies of solar assisted heating and cooling systems.In detail, solar thermal heating and cooling systems located in Palermo (southern Italy) and in Zurich (Switzerland) were compared with conventional systems assisted by grid connected and stand-alone photovoltaic plants.A validation of the tool was also carried out by comparing the obtained results with those of in-depth LCA studies.The results showed that the best system configuration in Palermo is the conventional system assisted by a grid-connected photovoltaic plant. Its impact on global energy requirement is about 83.7% and 74.5% of the corresponding impact of the solar thermal heating and cooling and the conventional system assisted by a stand-alone photovoltaic system, respectively.Different considerations can be made for Zurich, where the solar heating and cooling system performs better than the others; it is characterized by a global energy requirement that is 85.3% and 81.2% of the grid-connected and stand-alone photovoltaic assisted conventional systems, respectively. A similar trend is traceable for the global warming potential indicator.The validation of the LCA tool proved it to be reliable since deviations with a detailed LCA of the same system are contained below a 5% difference in all the comparable systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-100
Number of pages9
JournalSolar Energy Materials and Solar Cells
Volume156
Publication statusPublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films

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