Carbon Footprint

from Renewable Energy Systems

Carbon Footprint from Renewable Energy Systems

On November 6, the meeting of the executive committee of the Spanish low-temperature solar thermal technology platform SOLPLAT, coordinated by ASIT and Tecnalia, was held at the IDAE headquarters, in which the carbon footprint and the role that the thermosolar. parameter, it will be useful for the future Continued construction is very active. Primary energy consumption will play an important role in near zero energy buildings (nZEB), but in the near future, the carbon footprint will become a key differentiating factor for products and technologies. In this article, we look at the carbon footprint of making solar thermal panels and photovoltaic panels through research.

In that day, the study on the Carbon Footprint of Solar Thermal Energy of solar thermal collectors was presented, in which the processes from the cradle to the end of production were analyzed.

Currently, primary energy consumption plays a very important role in the formulation of first-level European regulations (mainly building regulations). However, in the near future, the planetary decarbonization paradigm should involve the use of the carbon footprint of different equipment as a metric, thus becoming a differentiator between different products and technologies.

Although standard building practices are based on short-term economic considerations, the best practices on which sustainable buildings are based are to combine quality with long-term efficiency, at affordable prices and with special attention to the environment. For this reason, energy technologies (such as solar thermal energy) designed and built in a sustainable way minimize the use of water, raw materials and energy throughout the entire life cycle.

DAP (Environmental Product Declaration, EPD) is a document based on ISO guidelines that aims to provide quantitative information on the impact of a product on the environment throughout its life cycle. They are called “standard eco-labels”, they do not define the standards of environmental preference or determine the minimum requirements to be met, they only provide information. In this sense, it is about analyzing the life cycle of solar collectors and providing this information for decision-making on the project and execution of work.

Fortunately, in general, solar thermal energy has a much lower carbon footprint than other types of energy such as butane or propane.


Composition of the solar panel

What is the carbon footprint of solar collectors manufactured and installed in Spain? When calculating the carbon footprint, the “product stage” of the solar collector has been considered, and it is subdivided into 3 modules, namely A1, A2 and A3, which represent “raw material supply”, “transport” and ” supply “respectively. . “Manufacturing” analyzes the different stages of the life cycle from “cradle to door”:

  • A1: Extract and process the raw materials of solar collectors as part of the final product.
  • A2: transport of raw materials from the solar thermal collector to the facilities where they are manufactured.
  • A3: Solar collector production in factories: collector production, including energy and water consumption; production of auxiliary materials; production of packaging; and transport and management of the waste generated

To model the manufacturing process, it is necessary to obtain annual factory production data:

  • Consumption of matter and energy.
  • Emissions to the air.
  • Residuous generation.

The result, certified by AENOR, has resulted in an average carbon footprint value for manufacturing a 112.5 kgeCO2 solar thermal collector.

To compare with other technologies (such as photovoltaic technology), the average carbon footprint of the photovoltaic solar panel manufacturing process has been extracted at 498 kgeCO2.