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Open AccessArticle

Assessment of the Carbon Footprint, Social Benefit of Carbon Reduction, and Energy Payback Time of a High-Concentration Photovoltaic System

1
Institute of Environmental Engineering and Management, National Taipei University of Technology, Taipei 106, Taiwan
2
Environmental Science Technology Consultants Corporation, Taipei 106, Taiwan
3
Physics Division, Institute of Nuclear Energy Research, Taoyuan 325, Taiwan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Tomonobu Senjyu
Sustainability 2017, 9(1), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9010027
Received: 23 November 2016 / Revised: 19 December 2016 / Accepted: 21 December 2016 / Published: 25 December 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Electric Power Systems Research)
Depleting fossil fuel sources and worsening global warming are two of the most serious world problems. Many renewable energy technologies are continuously being developed to overcome these challenges. Among these technologies, high-concentration photovoltaics (HCPV) is a promising technology that reduces the use of expensive photovoltaic materials to achieve highly efficient energy conversion. This reduction process is achieved by adopting concentrating and tracking technologies. This study intends to understand and assess the carbon footprint and energy payback time (EPBT) of HCPV modules during their entire life cycles. The social benefit of carbon reduction is also evaluated as another indicator to assess the energy alternatives. An HCPV module and a tracker from the Institute of Nuclear Energy Research (INER) were applied, and SimaPro 8.0.2 was used for the assessment. The functional unit used in this study was 1 kWh, which is produced by HCPV, and inventory data was sourced from Ecoinvent 3.0 and the Taiwan carbon footprint calculation database. The carbon footprint, EPBT, and social benefit of carbon reduction were evaluated as 107.69 g CO2eq/kWh, 2.61 years, and 0.022 USD/kWh, respectively. Direct normal irradiation (DNI), life expectancy, and the degradation rate of HCPV system were subjected to sensitivity analysis. Results show that the influence of lifetime assumption under a low DNI value is greater than those under high DNI values. Degradation rate is also another important factor when assessing the carbon footprint of HCPV under a low DNI value and a long lifetime assumption. The findings of this study can provide several insights for the development of the Taiwanese solar industry. View Full-Text
Keywords: high concentration photovoltaics (HCPV); carbon footprint; life cycle assessment; energy payback time (EPBT); direct normal irradiation (DNI); lifetime assumption; social benefit of carbon reduction; 1. Introduction high concentration photovoltaics (HCPV); carbon footprint; life cycle assessment; energy payback time (EPBT); direct normal irradiation (DNI); lifetime assumption; social benefit of carbon reduction; 1. Introduction
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Hu, A.H.; Huang, L.H.; Lou, S.; Kuo, C.-H.; Huang, C.-Y.; Chian, K.-J.; Chien, H.-T.; Hong, H.-F. Assessment of the Carbon Footprint, Social Benefit of Carbon Reduction, and Energy Payback Time of a High-Concentration Photovoltaic System. Sustainability 2017, 9, 27.

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