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Energy and environmental life-cycle impacts of solar-assisted systems: The application of the tool “ELISA”

Longo, Sonia, Beccali, Marco, Cellura, Maurizio, Guarino, Francesco
Renewable energy 2020 v.145 pp. 29-40
air conditioning, climate, cooling, cooling systems, decision making, ecosystem services, environmental impact, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, heat, life cycle assessment, life cycle thinking, renewable electricity, renewable energy sources, solar radiation, Greece
Solar heating and cooling (SHC) systems can be relevant in the achievement of energy and climate European goals. The benefits of these technologies should be evaluated taking into account their life-cycle energy and environmental impacts, calculated by applying the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).The development of a complete LCA can be difficult and time-consuming particularly for non-experts in LCA, discouraging them in developing the life-cycle assessments. To overcome this issue, the paper presents “ELISA - Environmental Lifecycle Impacts of Solar Air-conditioning systems”, a user-friendly simplified tool for estimating the life-cycle energy and environmental benefits/impacts of solar technologies for heating and cooling in different geographic contexts and comparing them to conventional systems.The tool was applied to analyse three systems (thermal SHC, conventional and PV assisted system) in Greece and to identify the one characterized by the best life-cycle performances. The results revealed that the impacts of PV assisted system are about 60% lower than those of the others, highlighting the advantage of using renewable electricity for building air-conditioning in locations with high solar radiation availability.ELISA can be used by researchers, designers and decision-makers to introduce the life-cycle thinking in the early design phase of heating and cooling systems.