Net energy analysis of domestic solar water heating installations in operation

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Title: Net energy analysis of domestic solar water heating installations in operation
Authors: Hernandez, Patxi
Kenny, Paul
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Date: Jan-2012
Abstract: The potential of solar water heating systems to reduce domestic energy use is frequently acknowledged. However there are two factors that are rarely discussed when studying this technology. Firstly the real performance of the installed systems in operation, and secondly a life cycle perspective of its energy use. These two issues are reviewed in this paper, and a field study in Ireland is also presented. In the review, some studies show that measured real performance of domestic solar water heating systems can be lower than expectations. Concerning their life cycle energy performance, existing studies show that the initial energy investment for the systems (their embodied energy) is a small portion of the energy savings over their lifetime with calculation paybacks generally lower than 2 years. On the field study carried in Ireland, representative of a maritime north European climate, the ‘energy payback’ based on the expected energy savings is between 1.2 and 3.5 years, values comparable to previous studies considering the less favourable climate and installation characteristics. However the measured energy savings generally worsened the life cycle energy performance of this technology and thus increased the energy payback period. The study concludes that while there is a real potential for life cycle energy savings through domestic solar water heating installations, devising mechanisms to ensure proper design, installation and operation of systems is essential for this technology.
Funding Details: Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright (published version): 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
Keywords: Net energyDomestic solar water heatingLife cycle energyEmbodied energyEnergy payback
Subject LCSH: Solar water heaters--Evaluation
Solar water heaters--Energy consumption
DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2011.07.144
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy Research Collection

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