Evaluating the environmental performance and the economic impact of concentrated solar power (CSP) type solar collector through a combined life cycle assessment (LCA)

As the world is moving away from non-renewable energies such as coal and fossil fuels due to many environmental and sustainability concerns, large amounts of resources are being poured into the research of clean and renewable energy. Solar energy is one of the widely used methods of obtaining energy due to its availability and harvestability in most parts of the world. Concentrated solar power (CSP) is a more efficient way in harnessing energy from the sun but they are to first be evaluated through a life-cycle assessment (LCA). This study will put a prototype of a CSP collector through a LCA software (openLCA), with various databases to evaluate if the making of the prototype is worth the environmental and economic impact it will have at the end of the life-cycle. The ISO Standard of LCA is applied to produce a more consistent and replicable result although there is no fixed methodology when it comes to LCA as it can go through multiple iterations to further improve or accommodate to the goal and scope. The main parameters that are observed to determine if the CSP prototype’s environmental impacts are its total energy consumption, greenhouse emissions (GHE), and global warming potential (GWP). On the economic impacts, the energy payback time (EPT) and total life cycle energy consumption is observed. Initial results of the LCA show that most of the environmental impacts originate from the production stages of the CSP and the operating stages has more impact to the economic part than others.