Life cycle environmental impacts of domestic solar water heaters in Turkey: The effect of different climatic regions

Sci Total Environ. 2018 May 1;622-623:1202-1216. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.12.057. Epub 2017 Dec 13.


Solar water heating (SWH) systems could help reduce environmental impacts from energy use but their performance and impacts depend on the climate. This paper considers how these vary for residential SWH across four different climatic regions in Turkey, ranging from hot to cold climates. Life cycle assessment was used for these purposes. The results suggest that in the hotter regions, the impacts of SWH are 1.5-2 times lower than those of natural gas boilers. A similar trend was observed in the two colder regions except for acidification, which was four times higher than that of the boiler. The raw materials and electricity required for the manufacturing of the systems were found to be the most important contributors to the impacts. Recycling the major components instead of landfilling reduced human toxicity potential by 50% but had only a small effect (5%) on the other impacts. The impacts were highly sensitive to the type of material used for the construction of the hot storage tank, but were not affected by transport and end-of life recycling. The only exception to the latter is human toxicity potential which decreased significantly with greater recycling. Extrapolating the results at the national level showed that SWH systems could reduce the annual greenhouse gas emissions in Turkey by 790kt CO2-eq. and would save the economy $162.5millionperyear through the avoided imports of natural gas. All other impacts would also be reduced significantly (3-32 times), except for acidification which would double. Therefore, SWH systems should be deployed more extensively in Turkey but government incentives may be needed to stimulate the uptake.

Keywords: Climatic regions; Environmental impact; Life cycle assessment; Solar water heaters; Turkey.