Environmental and economic optima of solar home systems design: A combined LCA and LCC approach
This paper compares the economic and environmental optimal design of Solar Home Systems (SHSs) and explores the role of economic incentives (such as tariffs and technology costs) in approximating the two optima. To achieve that, we present a methodology for the environmental and economic evaluation of grid-connected SHSs: user-scale electric systems involving a photovoltaic (PV) power system and a battery energy storage system. The proposed methodology is based on a mixed integer linear programming (MILP) optimization, life cycle assessment and life cycle costing. This methodological framework is applied to a case study involving a typical SHS installation in Italy. The results of the environmental optimal design brought to the evaluation of a 3.25 kW PV assisted by 8.66 kWh of nickel cobalt manganese batteries, whereas the costs of the SHS are minimized by a small PV system (less than 1 kW). Results underline that the environmental optimal configurations rely on battery technologies, which entails a significant cost compared to the grid connection. In contrast, the economic optimal design solutions is less impactful than the grid mix both from an environmental and economic points of view. Thanks to a reduction of batteries and PV costs, the environmental impact of the economic optimal design is expected to decrease in the future.