TABLE B-1 Characteristics of the Studied Solar Thermal Power

Technology type

Solar central tower power

Installed capacity

300 MW

Direct normal irradiation

1,875 KW h/m2 yr

Number of heliostats



2,502,000 m2

Technical lifetime

25 years

Energy generated per year

657 GWh

Energy generated in the lifetime

16,425 GWh

Electricity consumption by self-produced electricity

1,150 GWh

Net efficiency


  1. In the operation stage the solar thermal power systems transform solar energy to electricity, and no other fossil energy is required except that a small amount of fossil fuel is required in the startup of the electricity generating set. Thereafter, electricity needs are met by the on-site solar generation. The energy demand and emissions can be neglected because so little fossil fuel is used.

  2. The impacts of decommissioning of the power plant and the disposal of all the waste materials could not be quantified here due to the lack of reliable data, and so the energy and emissions produced in the disposal of all the waste materials of the power plant could not be accounted for in this study.

Processes modeled in the life cycle of the solar thermal power plants are depicted in Figure B-1.

Assessment Methods

The life cycle of the solar thermal power plant is completed using the following three environmental load profiles. First, the energy balance factor (EBF) is the ratio of energy output to input, which is used to confirm whether the system is feasible as an energy production system. Second, the energy payback time (EPT) is the index that accounts, by energy production, for the number of years required to recover the total energy input into the system over an entire life cycle. The third is the CO2 emission factor (CEF), which is the CO2 emission per unit of electricity generated. The CEF of the solar thermal power generation plant analyzed in this study are compared with that of a coal-fired power generation plant, which is reported to have the highest environmental impact among various power generation technologies.

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