Meta-Analysis of Estimates of Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Concentrating Solar Power: Preprint

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


In reviewing life cycle assessment (LCA) literature of utility-scale CSP systems, this analysis focuses on clarifying central tendency and reducing variability in estimates of life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through a meta-analytical process called harmonization. From 125 references reviewed, 10 produced 36 independent GHG emission estimates passing screens for quality and relevance: 19for parabolic trough technology and 17 for power tower technology. The interquartile range (IQR) of published GHG emission estimates was 83 and 20 g CO2eq/kWh for trough and tower, respectively, with medians of 26 and 38 g CO2eq/kWh. Two levels of harmonization were applied. Light harmonization reduced variability in published estimates by using consistent values for key parameters pertaining toplant design and performance. Compared to the published estimates, IQR was reduced by 69% and median increased by 76% for troughs. IQR was reduced by 26% for towers, and median was reduced by 34%. A second level of harmonization was applied to five well-documented trough LC GHG emission estimates, harmonizing to consistent values for GHG emissions embodied in materials and from constructionactivities. As a result, their median was further reduced by 5%, while the range increased by 6%. In sum, harmonization clarified previous results.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2011
EventSolarPACES 2011 - Granada, Spain
Duration: 20 Sep 201123 Sep 2011


ConferenceSolarPACES 2011
CityGranada, Spain

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-6A20-52191


  • central receiver
  • dish stirling
  • life-cycle assessment
  • meta-analysis
  • parabolic trough
  • power towers


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