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

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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