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With the increasing implementation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, comprehensive methods and tools are required to dynamically assess their economic and environmental costs and benefits under varied spatial and temporal contexts. This study integrated system dynamics modeling with life cycle assessment and life cycle cost assessment to evaluate the cumulative energy demand, carbon footprint, water footprint, and life cycle cost of residential grid-connected (GC) and standalone (SA) solar PV systems. The system dynamics model was specifically used for simulating the hourly solar energy generation, use, and storage during the use phase of the solar PVs. The modeling framework was then applied to a residential prototype house in Boston, MA to investigate various PV panel and battery sizing scenarios. When the SA design is under consideration, the maximum life cycle economic saving can be achieved with 20 panels with no battery in the prototype house, which increases the life cycle economic savings by 511.6% as compared to a baseline system sized based upon the engineering rule-of-thumb (40 panels and 40 batteries), yet decreases the demand met by 55.7%. However, the optimized environmental performance was achieved with significantly larger panel (up to 300 units) and battery (up to 320 units) sizes. These optimized configurations increase the life cycle environmental savings of the baseline system byup to 64.6%, but significantly decrease the life cycle economic saving by up to 6868.4%. There is a clear environmental and economic tradeoff when sizing the SA systems. When the GC system design is under consideration, both the economic and environmental benefits are the highest when no battery is installed, and the benefits increase with the increase of panel size. However, when policy constraints such as limitations/caps of grid sell are in place, tradeoffs would present as whether or not to install batteries for excess energy storage.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: The Science of the total environment
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An international organization whose mission is to stimulate world trade and economic progress by offering a forum where governments can collectively develop and refine social and economic policies.
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