Exergy concepts and exergy based methods are applied to energy systems to evaluate their level of sustainability. Life Cycle Exergy Analysis (LCEA) is a method that combines LCA with exergy, and it is applied to solar energy systems. It offers an excellent visualization of the exergy flows involved over the complete life cycle of a product or service. The energy and exergy used in production, operation and destruction must be paid back during life time in order to be sustainable. The exergy of the material that is being engaged by the system will turn up as a product and available for recycling in the destruction stage. LCEA shows that solar thermal plants have much longer exergy payback time than energy payback time, 15.4 and 3.5 years respectively. Energy based analysis may lead to false assumptions in the evaluation of the sustainability of renewable energy systems. This concludes that LCEA is an effective tool for the design and evaluation of solar energy systems in order to be more sustainable.
Citation: Gong M, Wall G (2014) Life Cycle Exergy Analysis of Solar Energy Systems. J Fundam Renewable Energy Appl 5:146. doi: 10.4172/2090-4541.1000146