Do the overall efficiencies of renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, and geothermal add up in terms of their complete life cycle from materials sourcing, manufacture, running, and decommissioning" Researchers in Greece have carried out a life cycle assessment to find the answer.
Increasing energy consumption and a growing world population implies shrinking reserves of fossil fuels. While the use of fossil fuels brings with it the problem of carbon dioxide emissions and climate change. Our continued dependence on fossil fuels coupled with the pressing global issue of climate change has pushed the concept of renewable energy sources to the top of the agenda.
In looking for alternative energy supplies, there is more to simply adding up the outputs, according to Christopher Koroneos and Yanni Koroneos of the Laboratory of Heat Transfer and Environmental Engineering, at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. They argue that a whole life cycle assessment of any environmentally friendly energy supply must be carried out to ensure its green credentials are valid.
Writing in Inderscience's International Journal of Global Energy Issues, the researchers point out that land use and materials employed are just two aspects of renewable energy development that can have an adverse impact on the otherwise positive environmental picture.
There are three viable renewable energy resources, say the researchers - solar energy, wind power and geothermal energy. They have applied the techniques of life cycle assessment (LCA) to each in order to determine the total environmental impact and to compare this with the effects of equivalent energy release from fossil fuels.
The LCA approach allows an assessment to be made of the flow of material and energy used in the construction, operation and ultimate decommissioning of a renewable energy supply. It also takes into account the manufacturing of components, the possible extraction and supply of fuels as well as waste generated in these processes.
The researchers demonstrate that some renewable energy systems based on wind power and geothermal energy do have valid green credentials in electricity production. The efficiency of these systems is comparable over the complete life cycle than the equivalent fossil fuel system. However, the conversion of solar energy to electricity using photovoltaic solar cells is less efficient in terms of materials production, running, and recycling than non-renewable energy. However, economies of scale come into play with solar power and a large enough area of solar cells would outstrip the fossil fuel system. The team also points out that the life cycle pollution of solar systems is much, much lower than any conventional system although thermodynamic efficiency is lower.
"A significant advantage of the use of renewable energy systems," say the researchers, "is that they are environmentally friendly because overall they result in lower dangerous pollutant emissions, this and one other major factor, they are essentially inexhaustible."
Christopher Koroneos | EurekAlert!
New tech for commercial Lithium-ion batteries finds they can be charged 5 times fast
20.02.2018 | University of Warwick
In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer
19.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Polymerforschung
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
20.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
20.02.2018 | Life Sciences
20.02.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering