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Integrated hybrid life cycle assessment and contribution analysis for CO2 emission and energy consumption of a concentrated solar power plant in China

Li, Ruixiong, Zhang, Haoran, Wang, Huanran, Tu, Qingshi, Wang, Xuejun
Energy 2019 v.174 pp. 310-322
carbon dioxide, coal, electricity, greenhouse gas emissions, life cycle assessment, manufacturing, models, power plants, solar energy, steel, thermal energy, China
Concentrated solar power (CSP), a technology that provides electricity by concentrating solar energy into a single focal point, shows great potential for large-scale utilization. In this study, an integrated hybrid life cycle assessment (LCA) model for multiple regions of China is presented to evaluate the life cycle CO2 emission, energy consumption, and energy payback time of a 10-MW power tower CSP plant located in China. Over its life cycle of 25 years, the CSP plant is estimated to have CO2 emissions of 35 g/kWh, consume 514 kJ/kWh of energy, and have an energy payback time close to four years. Using the proposed hybrid model, a significant advantage is the ability to compare the life cycle impact sourced from each sector in input-output economic background. Based on the regionalization of economic background at the province level, the most noteworthy impact is from Hubei province; besides, the CO2 emission from the electricity sector in each province is the largest contributor. The majority (54%) of the life cycle CO2 emission of the CSP plant is contributed by the northern region of China due to the higher utilization of coal in the economy of that region, yet most of the energy consumption comes from the southern part of China because of the concentration of manufacturing there. For the life cycle impact of a CSP plant, thermal energy storage using molten salt, and solar collection demanding lots of steel are the two most significant contributors to CO2 emission and energy consumption.