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Exergy analysis and life cycle assessment of solar heating and cooling systems in the building environment

Koroneos, C., Tsarouhis, M.
Journal of cleaner production 2012 v.32 pp. 52-60
cooling, cooling systems, cost effectiveness, electricity, environmental degradation, environmental impact, exergy, fuels, geothermal energy, heat, heat pumps, life cycle assessment, manufacturing, society, solar energy, solar radiation, Greece
The serious environmental degradation of our planet in the past century and the limitation of supplies of conventional fuels have led humanity to search for new energy forms. The housing sector has a big environmental impact and it makes a good candidate for changes to be implemented in order to make steps towards a sustainable society. This study deals with the exergy analysis and the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of solar systems for space heating, cooling and hot domestic water production. These systems will be applied to a residence in the wide Thessaloniki area, in Northern Greece. The analysis is based on the given energy needs of an average house. Furthermore, a photovoltaic system (PV) will be used for electricity production. Besides Solar energy, the existing geothermal field will be utilized via heat pumps. The system is designed to exploit solar and geothermal energy and an exergy analysis of the different elements of the system is performed so that improvements can be achieved in its efficiency and its cost be reduced. It has been shown that the exergy efficiency of the solar systems and the geothermal system are relatively low. Since almost all of the environmental impacts of the renewable energies are connected to the manufacturing of the devises for their utilization, the environmental impacts will be analyzed only at the manufacturing stage. The use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) will be used. It has been shown that the use of solar cooling has the highest environmental impact. This analysis applies for all regions since the energy needs could be adjusted and the solar radiation of that region taken into consideration.