skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: The impact of off-site land use energy intensity on the overall life cycle land use energy intensity for utility-scale solar electricity generation technologies

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [2]
  1. Saint Lawrence University, 23 Romoda Drive, Canton, New York 13617, USA
  2. Argonne National Laboratory, 9700 S. Cass Avenue, Argonne, Illinois 60439, USA
Publication Date:
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1228154
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Publisher's Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 7; Journal Issue: 3; Related Information: CHORUS Timestamp: 2018-03-29 14:27:14; Journal ID: ISSN 1941-7012
Publisher:
American Institute of Physics
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English

Citation Formats

Murphy, David J., Horner, Robert M., and Clark, Corrie E.. The impact of off-site land use energy intensity on the overall life cycle land use energy intensity for utility-scale solar electricity generation technologies. United States: N. p., 2015. Web. doi:10.1063/1.4921650.
Murphy, David J., Horner, Robert M., & Clark, Corrie E.. The impact of off-site land use energy intensity on the overall life cycle land use energy intensity for utility-scale solar electricity generation technologies. United States. doi:10.1063/1.4921650.
Murphy, David J., Horner, Robert M., and Clark, Corrie E.. Wed . "The impact of off-site land use energy intensity on the overall life cycle land use energy intensity for utility-scale solar electricity generation technologies". United States. doi:10.1063/1.4921650.
@article{osti_1228154,
title = {The impact of off-site land use energy intensity on the overall life cycle land use energy intensity for utility-scale solar electricity generation technologies},
author = {Murphy, David J. and Horner, Robert M. and Clark, Corrie E.},
abstractNote = {},
doi = {10.1063/1.4921650},
journal = {Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy},
number = 3,
volume = 7,
place = {United States},
year = {Wed May 27 00:00:00 EDT 2015},
month = {Wed May 27 00:00:00 EDT 2015}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record at 10.1063/1.4921650

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 4works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Save / Share:
  • Estimates of the amount of land used for a defined amount of utility-scale electricity generation in the solar power industry, referred to as solar land use energy intensity (LUEI), are important to decision makers for evaluating the environmental impact of energy technology choices. In general, solar energy tends to have a larger on-site LUEI than that of fossil fuels because the energy generated per square meter of power plant area is much lower. Unfortunately, there are few studies that quantify the off-site LUEI for utility-scale solar energy, and of those that do, they share common methodologies and data sets. Inmore » this study, we develop a new method for calculating the off-site LUEI for utility-scale solar energy for three different technologies: silicon photovoltaic (Si-PV), cadmium-telluride (CdTe) PV, and parabolic trough concentrated solar thermal. Our results indicate that the off-site LUEI is most likely 1% or less of the on-site LUEI for each technology. Although our results have some inherent uncertainties, they fall within an order of magnitude of other estimates in the literature.« less
  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is the main technique for evaluate the environmental impacts of product life cycles. A major challenge in the field of LCA is spatial and temporal differentiation in Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) methods, especially impacts resulting from land occupation and land transformation. Land use characterization modeling has advanced considerably over the last two decades and many approaches have recently included crucial aspects such as geographic differentiation. Nevertheless, characterization models have so far not been systematically reviewed and evaluated to determine their applicability to South America. Given that Brazil is the largest country in South America, thismore » paper analyzes the main international characterization models currently available in the literature, with a view to recommending regionalized models applicable on a global scale for land use life cycle impact assessments, and discusses their feasibility for regionalized assessment in Brazil. The analytical methodology involves classification based on the following criteria: midpoint/endpoint approach, scope of application, area of data collection, biogeographical differentiation, definition of recovery time and reference situation; followed by an evaluation of thirteen scientific robustness and environmental relevance subcriteria. The results of the scope of application are distributed among 25% of the models developed for the European context, and 50% have a global scope. There is no consensus in the literature about the definition of parameters such biogeographical differentiation and reference situation, and our review indicates that 35% of the models use ecoregion division while 40% use the concept of potential natural vegetation. Four characterization models show high scores in terms of scientific robustness and environmental relevance. These models are recommended for application in land use life cycle impact assessments, and also to serve as references for the development or adaptation of regional methodological procedures for Brazil. - Highlights: • A discussion is made on performing regionalized impact assessments using spatial differentiation in LCA. • A review is made of 20 characterization models for land use impacts in Life Cycle Impact Assessment. • Four characterization models are recommended according to different land use impact pathways for application in Brazil.« less
  • In reviewing life cycle assessment (LCA) literature of utility-scale concentrating solar power (CSP) systems, this analysis focuses on reducing variability and clarifying the central tendency of published estimates of life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through a meta-analytical process called harmonization. From 125 references reviewed, 10 produced 36 independent GHG emissions estimates passing screens for quality and relevance: 19 for parabolic trough (trough) technology and 17 for power tower (tower) technology. The interquartile range (IQR) of published estimates for troughs and towers were 83 and 20 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour (g CO2-eq/kWh),1 respectively; median estimates were 26more » and 38 g CO2-eq/kWh for trough and tower, respectively. Two levels of harmonization were applied. Light harmonization reduced variability in published estimates by using consistent values for key parameters pertaining to plant design and performance. The IQR and median were reduced by 87% and 17%, respectively, for troughs. For towers, the IQR and median decreased by 33% and 38%, respectively. Next, five trough LCAs reporting detailed life cycle inventories were identified. The variability and central tendency of their estimates are reduced by 91% and 81%, respectively, after light harmonization. By harmonizing these five estimates to consistent values for global warming intensities of materials and expanding system boundaries to consistently include electricity and auxiliary natural gas combustion, variability is reduced by an additional 32% while central tendency increases by 8%. These harmonized values provide useful starting points for policy makers in evaluating life cycle GHG emissions from CSP projects without the requirement to conduct a full LCA for each new project.« less