Hybridizing concentrated solar power (CSP) with biogas and biomethane as an alternative to natural gas: Analysis of environmental performance using LCA

San Miguel Alfaro, Guillermo and Corona Bellostas, Blanca (2014). Hybridizing concentrated solar power (CSP) with biogas and biomethane as an alternative to natural gas: Analysis of environmental performance using LCA. "Renewable Energy", v. 66 ; pp. 580-587. ISSN 0960-1481. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2013.12.023.

Description

Title: Hybridizing concentrated solar power (CSP) with biogas and biomethane as an alternative to natural gas: Analysis of environmental performance using LCA
Author/s:
  • San Miguel Alfaro, Guillermo
  • Corona Bellostas, Blanca
Item Type: Article
Título de Revista/Publicación: Renewable Energy
Date: 23 December 2014
Volume: 66
Subjects:
Freetext Keywords: Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), biogas, natural gas, biomethane
Faculty: E.T.S.I. Industriales (UPM)
Department: Ingeniería Energética y Fluidomecánica [hasta 2014]
UPM's Research Group: Agroenergética GA-UPM
Creative Commons Licenses: Recognition - No derivative works - Non commercial

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Abstract

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plants typically incorporate one or various auxiliary boilers operating in parallel to the solar field to facilitate start up operations, provide system stability, avoid freezing of heat transfer fluid (HTF) and increase generation capacity. The environmental performance of these plants is highly influenced by the energy input and the type of auxiliary fuel, which in most cases is natural gas (NG). Replacing the NG with biogas or biomethane (BM) in commercial CSP installations is being considered as a means to produce electricity that is fully renewable and free from fossil inputs. Despite their renewable nature, the use of these biofuels also generates environmental impacts that need to be adequately identified and quantified. This paper investigates the environmental performance of a commercial wet-cooled parabolic trough 50 MWe CSP plant in Spain operating according to two strategies: solar-only, with minimum technically viable energy non-solar contribution; and hybrid operation, where 12 % of the electricity derives from auxiliary fuels (as permitted by Spanish legislation). The analysis was based on standard Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology (ISO 14040-14040). The technical viability and the environmental profile of operating the CSP plant with different auxiliary fuels was evaluated, including: NG; biogas from an adjacent plant; and BM withdrawn from the gas network. The effect of using different substrates (biowaste, sewage sludge, grass and a mix of biowaste with animal manure) for the production of the biofuels was also investigated. The results showed that NG is responsible for most of the environmental damage associated with the operation of the plant in hybrid mode. Replacing NG with biogas resulted in a significant improvement of the environmental performance of the installation, primarily due to reduced impact in the following categories: natural land transformation, depletion of fossil resources, and climate change. However, despite the renewable nature of the biofuels, other environmental categories like human toxicity, eutrophication, acidification and marine ecotoxicity scored higher when using biogas and BM.

Funding Projects

TypeCodeAcronymLeaderTitle
FP7308912HYSOLUnspecifiedInnovative Configuration of a Fully Renewable Hybrid CSP Plant

More information

Item ID: 38420
DC Identifier: http://oa.upm.es/38420/
OAI Identifier: oai:oa.upm.es:38420
DOI: 10.1016/j.renene.2013.12.023
Official URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960148113007003
Deposited by: Blanca Corona
Deposited on: 09 Mar 2016 12:06
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2016 12:08
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