CPV study finds environmental advantages over solar thermal

The Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at UC Berkeley released a report comparing CPV solar systems to other solar technologies on land, water, and materials use over a product lifecycle.

July 14, 2011 — The Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley released a report comparing concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) solar systems to other solar technologies on land, water, and materials use over a product lifecycle. It was commissioned by the non-profit CPV Consortium.

Life cycle assessment (LCA) elements considered include energy payback, embedded greenhouse gases, land use, water use, and cradle-to-cradle footprint. CPV leads the industry on these factors, based on data available at the time of the study. Compared to solar thermal generators, CPV water usage is minimal, suiting solar arrays in dry, desert areas with a high solar resource. The land footprint and impact is also found to be lower; as efficiencies of CPV systems increase this will become even a bigger benefit.

CPV allows increased energy output per built area, minimizing land use, said Dr. Daniel Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at UC Berkeley.

Nancy Hartsoch, chairman of the CPV Consortium board noted that the environmental impact of renewables cannot be overlooked. “CPV technology is not only economically viable, but environmentally advantaged through its entire life cycle,” she stated.

The report additionally contains details about the CPV deployment using UC Berkeley?s SWITCH model, an electric power system capacity expansion model of Western North America combining long-term grid investments with electricity cost minimizations in given policy contexts. The SWITCH model demonstrates the economic viability of CPV as a power generation technology for that region.

The full report can be found on the Consortium?s website at www.cpvconsortium.org.

The CPV Consortium is a global industry organization that supports the development and long-term success of Concentrator Photovoltaics (CPV).

The Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) at UC Berkeley combines research, development, project implementation, and community outreach. RAEL focuses on designing, testing, and disseminating renewable and appropriate energy systems. Learn more at http://rael.berkeley.edu/

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