Within the frame of the Swiss case study of Horizon 2020 ACT project ELEGANCY – Enabling a low-carbon economy via hydrogen and CCS (https://www.sintef.no/elegancy), researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) conducted a Life Cycle Analysis of Industrial Solar’s LF-11 Fresnel Collector. The impressive results prove the unique collector design of Industrial Solar to be an outstanding environmentally friendly heat generation technology that can support the scale up of solutions like Climeworks’ direct air capture.
Beside renewable energy technologies, direct air capture and storage (DACS) is one of the technological solutions that remove CO2 emissions from the air (carbon dioxide removal) and that may contribute to keeping the rise in global average temperature within the limits of the Paris Agreement. Carbon dioxide removal might become a major mean of achieving net negative emissions and reducing the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. Despite the importance of carbon dioxide removal, there has been a large disconnect between policy ambitions, technology readiness and industrial uptake. ELEGANCY will fast-track the deployment of carbon dioxide removal in Europe and worldwide by providing innovative and cutting-edge solutions to key technical challenges for CO2 transport, injection and storage, as well as H2 – CO2 separation.
One of the partners of the consortium of the ELEGANY project is Climeworks, a company that develops, builds and operates direct air capture (DAC) machines that remove CO2 from the air. The air-captured CO2 can either be recycled and used as a raw material, or completely removed from the air by safely storing it.
Since Climeworks’ DAC machines require heat at temperatures of around 100 C° to regenerate the adsorbent, researchers in the Technology Assessment Group at PSI conducted a detailed life cycle analysis (LCA) of different heat sources and their respective impact on climate and environment with the aim to find a suitable and eco-friendly heat source to operate these DAC machines. The LCA results show that Industrial Solar’s Fresnel technology at various locations in the Middle East, Chile, or Southern Europe performs best in most environmental impact categories compared to heat from impact-intensive hard coal or oil furnaces, but also state-of-the-art natural gas boilers and even wood chips furnaces. Absolute impacts on the environment are very low per MJ heat produced. Thus, making use of solar energy via this plant is a well-suited system to generate heat in an environmentally friendly way, e.g. to be used in a combined Fresnel – solar photovoltaics – DAC design. A scientific publication is currently being written which will show the calculations, assumptions, and detailed results.