Life-cycle assessment of a 100% solar fraction thermal supply to a European apartment building using water-based sensible heat storage

2011-04-15T09:09:10Z (GMT) by Andrew Simons Steven Firth
Providing 100% of a building’s heating and hot water using a solar thermal system in a European climate has been shown to be both practically feasible and functionally successful for a new apartment building in Switzerland. The research conducted a life cycle assessment of the solar thermal system and compared the results with an air-source heat-pump, ground-source heat pump, natural gas furnace, oil furnace and a wood-pellet furnace. Using a range of lifetime scenarios it was found that the solar thermal system displays potentially significant advantages over all other systems in terms of reductions for purchased primary energy (from 84 to 93%) and reductions in GHG emissions (from 59 to 97%). However, due to the heavy industrial processes and the particular metals used in manufacturing, the solar thermal system was shown to have a higher demand for resources which, in relation to the natural gas system, can be by a factor of almost 38. Potential impacts on ecosystem quality were marginally worse than for the heat-pump and fossil fuel systems due to resource use impacts whilst potential human health impacts were similar to the heat pump systems but better than the fossil and biomass fuelled systems.