Life Cycle Analysis of a Geothermal Power Plant: Comparison of the Environmental Performance with Other Renewable Energy Systems

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This paper presents the life cycle analysis performed for the assessment of the environmental performances of three existing Italian power plants with different sources of renewable energy: Geothermal, solar, and wind.

Primary data were used for building the life cycle inventories. The results are characterized by employing a wide portfolio of environmental indicators employing the ReCiPe 2016 and the ILCD 2011 Midpoint+ methods; normalization and weighting are also applied using the ReCiPe 2016 method at the endpoint level.

The midpoint results demonstrate a good eco-profile of the geothermal power plant compared to other renewable energy systems and a definite step forward over the performance of the national energy mix. The Eco-Point single score calculation showed that wind energy is the best technology with a value of 0.0012 Eco-points/kWh, a result in line with previously documented life cycle analysis studies.

Nevertheless, the geothermal power plant achieved a value of 0.0177 Eco-points/kWh which is close to that calculated for the photovoltaic plant (0.0087 Eco-points/kWh) and much lower than the national energy mix one (0.1240 Eco-points/kWh). Also, a scenario analysis allowed for a critical discussion about potential improvements to the environmental performance of the geothermal power plant.

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