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Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Renewable Energy Technologies

A special issue of Energies (ISSN 1996-1073). This special issue belongs to the section "A: Sustainable Energy".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 21 August 2024 | Viewed by 4789

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Energy Technologies and Renewable Energy Sources, ENEA, Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development, Via Anguillarese, 301, 00123 Rome, Italy
Interests: life cycle assessment; LCA; renewable energy technologies; nuclear energy; energy and environment

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Guest Editor
Department of Industrial, Electronic and Mechanical Engineering, Roma Tre University, Via Vito Volterra, 62, 00146 Roma, Italy
Interests: green buildings; energy efficiency; NZEB; building performance; building materials; building acoustics; life cycle assessment; embodied energy; embodied carbon; renewable energy systems
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue aims to evaluate the impacts of a wide range of energy technologies and strategies, both at the supply and demand side level.

Existing and new technological solutions in the energy sector able to minimize environmental impact will be investigated.

Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is widely recognized as the most advanced approach to obtaining verified and comparable information on the environmental performance of products, technologies, and services on a qualitative and quantitative basis throughout their entire life cycle, such as raw material extraction, design and formulation, processing, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, use, re-use, recycling, and waste disposal.

Lately, the life cycle concept has also become increasingly important in environmental policy, stimulating and supporting the transition to a green economy.

This Special Issue aims to present the state of the art in the field of green technologies for energy generation and storage from the perspective of decarbonizing the global energy system, with a specific focus on renewable technologies and buildings. Beyond global warming, several global challenges have to be addressed right away, such as environmental pollution, the loss of biodiversity, water shortage, and energy security.

LCA allows the assessment of long-term impacts of renewable energy technologies, and it will be useful in the development and improvement of energy strategies since it will be suitable to compare different solutions.

Prof. Dr. Giambattista Guidi
Prof. Dr. Francesco Asdrubali
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Energies is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • life cycle analysis
  • environmental impact
  • energy strategies
  • energy security
  • climate emergency
  • wind energy
  • photovoltaics
  • hydroelectric
  • energy storage
  • sustainability challenge
  • LCA of buildings

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

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16 pages, 3112 KiB  
Article
LCA of Recycled (NdDy)FeB Permanent Magnets through Hydrogen Decrepitation
by Antonella Accardo, Trentalessandro Costantino and Ezio Spessa
Energies 2024, 17(4), 908; https://doi.org/10.3390/en17040908 - 15 Feb 2024
Viewed by 837
Abstract
Compared to conventional fossil-fueled vehicles, electric vehicles offer several environmental benefits. However, even electric vehicles are not completely environmentally friendly because many of their parts are not recycled today. These parts, especially the magnets that power them, end up in landfills at the [...] Read more.
Compared to conventional fossil-fueled vehicles, electric vehicles offer several environmental benefits. However, even electric vehicles are not completely environmentally friendly because many of their parts are not recycled today. These parts, especially the magnets that power them, end up in landfills at the end of the vehicle’s life cycle. This study aims to evaluate the environmental impacts of recycled (NdDy)FeB permanent magnets obtained by means of a novel hydrogen-decrepitation-based, magnet-to-magnet recycling technique. The Life Cycle Assessment methodology was used to compare, on a like-to-like basis, recycled and virgin permanent magnets. The core data provided by an industry partner served as the foundation for modelling the recycling process. Three different functional units were investigated based on three parameters, namely the magnet mass, magnetization coercivity, and energy product. Results revealed that the recycled magnet outperformed the virgin magnet in most impact categories. In terms of carbon footprint, recycling permanent magnets through hydrogen decrepitation would allow for an 18─33% reduction with respect to their production from virgin materials, depending on the assumed functional unit. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Renewable Energy Technologies)
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19 pages, 565 KiB  
Article
Environmental Product Declarations as a Data Source for the Assessment of Environmental Impacts during the Use Phase of Photovoltaic Modules: Critical Issues and Potential
by Giuseppe Piras and Adriana Scarlet Sferra
Energies 2024, 17(2), 482; https://doi.org/10.3390/en17020482 - 19 Jan 2024
Viewed by 967
Abstract
In the context of policies promoting renewable energies for decarbonization, energy transition and the development of energy communities, photovoltaic systems require special attention. Even for these systems, it is legitimate to inquire about the correlation, currently carried out through life cycle analysis, between [...] Read more.
In the context of policies promoting renewable energies for decarbonization, energy transition and the development of energy communities, photovoltaic systems require special attention. Even for these systems, it is legitimate to inquire about the correlation, currently carried out through life cycle analysis, between benefits and environmental impacts. To maintain long-term productivity levels and ensure the proper functioning of the system, maintenance interventions are necessary. While these interventions guarantee performance, they also have repercussions for the environment. This study aims to assess the environmental impacts caused by ordinary and extraordinary maintenance interventions, taking into account specific factors, during the 30-year operational phase. To evaluate these impacts, this study verifies the feasibility of using data from Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) and the Product Category Rules (PCR) as reference. The initial results highlight, on the one hand, among the main issues, the importance that all EPDs attribute to the impacts caused by water consumption during the use phase of the PV modules, and on the other hand, some critical issues mainly due to the lack of data relating to the installation site necessary for the correct planning of maintenance activities. Finally, the study presents some reflections for a potential recalibration of the PCR and their associated EPDs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Renewable Energy Technologies)
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Review

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33 pages, 407 KiB  
Review
Environmental Impact of Electricity Generation Technologies: A Comparison between Conventional, Nuclear, and Renewable Technologies
by Giambattista Guidi, Anna Carmela Violante and Simona De Iuliis
Energies 2023, 16(23), 7847; https://doi.org/10.3390/en16237847 - 29 Nov 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1646
Abstract
The transformation of the energy sector, based on the development of low-carbon technologies, is essential to achieve climate neutrality. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a powerful methodology for assessing the environmental impact of energy technologies, which proves to be a useful tool [...] Read more.
The transformation of the energy sector, based on the development of low-carbon technologies, is essential to achieve climate neutrality. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a powerful methodology for assessing the environmental impact of energy technologies, which proves to be a useful tool for policy makers. The paper is a review of the main LCA studies of power generation systems performed over the past ten years aiming at comparing the energy technologies to identify those with the lowest impact on the environment, evaluated in terms of gCO2eq/kWh emissions. Screening criteria were established to include only studies of the highest qualitative significance. The authors decided to assign greater weight to emission values reported in more recent studies. For nuclear and renewable energy technologies, most of the emissions are related to the pre-operational phases. Notably, both nuclear and wind technologies, along with other renewable sources throughout their entire life cycle, exhibit significantly lower and less variable emissions compared with conventional gas- and coal-fired technologies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Renewable Energy Technologies)
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