Comprehensive Evaluation of Photovoltaic Solar Plants vs. Natural Ecosystems in Green Conflict Situations
2. PV System Costs and Benefits
2.1. Benefits (Positive Impacts)
2.1.1. Climate Change Mitigation
2.1.2. Economic Benefit
2.2. Costs (Negative Impacts)
2.2.1. Loss of Carbon Sink
2.2.2. Biodiversity Loss
2.2.3. Disaster Risk
3. Materials and Methods
3.1. Cost and Benefit Quantification
3.1.1. Climate Change Mitigation
3.1.2. Economic Benefit
3.1.3. Loss of Carbon Sink
3.1.4. Biodiversity Loss
3.1.5. Disaster Risk
- Landslide hazard map
- PV solar plant damage
3.2. Case Study
- Climate change mitigation
- Economic benefit
- Loss of carbon sink
- Biodiversity loss
- Disaster risk
- Integration of positive and negative impacts
4. Results and Discussion
4.1. Cost and Benefit Quantification Results
4.1.1. Climate Change Mitigation
4.1.2. Loss of Carbon Sink
4.1.3. Disaster Risk
4.2. Case Study
- The costs and benefits (negative and positive impacts) established for installing a PV system by clearing forests and moorlands have been described from environmental, social, and economic perspectives. The most influential benefits (climate change mitigation and economic benefit) and costs (loss of carbon sink, biodiversity loss, and disaster risk) were targeted for quantitative evaluation.
- Climate change mitigation was calculated using GHG emissions released during PV system manufacturing, and applying substitution values for GHG emissions (determining CO2 equivalents for all GHGs) for PV array development and installation. The economic benefit was calculated based on the FIT scheme subsidies gained by plant operation. Carbon sink loss was calculated based on estimates of CO2 absorption by forests, and biodiversity loss was calculated based on the forest area lost to facilitate plant installation. Disaster risk was calculated using map overlays to determine whether PV solar plants were located in landslide hazard areas; it was assumed that such plants would eventually be damaged by landslides, and that all parts of such facilities would become waste, needing suitable disposal.
- A comprehensive evaluation was conducted, using the EIA process from the LCA method. The P/N ratio was also defined to compare the cost and benefits (positive and negative impacts).
- When this text was drafted, there were 361 mega solar plants installed in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, of which 92 were installed by clearing natural ecosystems, such as forests, moorlands, and agricultural land. The natural ecosystem area cleared to install these 92 plants was estimated at 3,226,100 m2 using satellite imagery, and 42 of these were found to be located in high-landslide-risk sites. The natural ecosystem area cleared for these 42 plants was calculated to be 2,041,600 m2. We estimated that the mega PV solar plants installed by clearing natural ecosystems had an annual economic benefit of JPY 10,648 million JPY (101.16 million USD), and an estimated annual cost of 7776 million JPY (73.88 million USD). These estimates resulted in a P/N ratio of 1.37, indicating that, by using the methods applied here, the PV solar array economic benefits outweighed their costs, in terms of effects on natural ecosystems.
- We found that economic benefit, disaster risk, and biodiversity loss were the parameters with the greatest influence on the P/N ratio, and reviewed the effect of changes to these parameters on the P/N ratio, using sensitivity analysis. We found that the P/N ratio did not go below 1.0, irrespective to any changes in biodiversity value estimates, while, if the economic benefit was reduced by 20% from the default value, the P/N ratio would become <1.0—that is, the costs would outweigh the benefits. We also found that applying disaster prevention measures to reduce disaster risk could be a good way to increase the P/N ratio significantly.
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|Fiscal Year (FY)||Purchase Rate 1|
|Fiscal Year||Purchase Rate 1|
|FY2012||42.00 (0.40)||FY2016||25.92 (0.25)|
|FY2013||37.80 (0.36)||FY2017||22.68 (0.22)|
|FY2014||34.56 (0.33)||FY2018||19.44 (0.18)|
|FY2015 (April 1 to June 30)||31.32 (0.30)||Since FY2019||Decided by tendering|
|FY2015 (From July 1)||29.16 (0.28)|
|Product||Material||Weight or Area of Material||GHG Emission|
|Aluminum foil||0.5||[kg/m2]||12.6||[kg CO2eq/kg]|
|Solar panel||Glass||1||[m2]||26.7||[kg CO2eq/m2]|
|Aluminum frame||2.16||[kg/m2]||11||[kg CO2eq/kg]|
|Cell (Crystalline Silicon)||1||[m2]||767||[kg CO2eq/m2]|
|Benefit (positive impact)||Climate change mitigation||2.33|
|Cost (negative impacts)||Loss of carbon sink||2.33|
|Solar Panel||Mount||Foundation (Concrete)||Total|
|Specifications||Case 1||Case 2||Case 3||Case 4|
|Total generation capacity [kW]||750||6500||9990||1990|
|Land use [m2]||217,000||270,000||150,000||N.A.|
|Location||Mountainside||Factory rooftop||Closed landfill||Holding pond|
|Damaged solar panels||1344||13,780||13,413||733|
|Potential disaster waste [t]||299|
|Positive and Negative Impacts||Quantified Results|
|Integrated Value by LIME2 [JPY/m2]|
|(a) Economic Benefit|
|(b) Indicator Value [Million JPY]|
|(a) + (b)|
|Benefit (positive impacts)||Climate change mitigation||34.70||80.85|
|Cost (negative impacts)||Loss of carbon sink||0.25||0.58|
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Mori, K.; Tabata, T. Comprehensive Evaluation of Photovoltaic Solar Plants vs. Natural Ecosystems in Green Conflict Situations. Energies 2020, 13, 6224. https://doi.org/10.3390/en13236224
Mori K, Tabata T. Comprehensive Evaluation of Photovoltaic Solar Plants vs. Natural Ecosystems in Green Conflict Situations. Energies. 2020; 13(23):6224. https://doi.org/10.3390/en13236224Chicago/Turabian Style
Mori, Kosuke, and Tomohiro Tabata. 2020. "Comprehensive Evaluation of Photovoltaic Solar Plants vs. Natural Ecosystems in Green Conflict Situations" Energies 13, no. 23: 6224. https://doi.org/10.3390/en13236224