An Assessment of the Environmental Impacts of Concentrator Photovoltaics and Modeling of Concentrator Photovoltaic Deployment Using the SWITCH Model

TitleAn Assessment of the Environmental Impacts of Concentrator Photovoltaics and Modeling of Concentrator Photovoltaic Deployment Using the SWITCH Model
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsKammen D, Nelson J, Mileva A, Johnston J
Date Published10/2011
InstitutionUC Berkeley, Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory
CityBerkeley, CA
KeywordsConcentrated PV, Environmental Impact Assessment, SWITCH
Abstract

The environmental and societal benefits of deploying renewable energy technologies at utility scale must be considered alongside the concomitant costs and alternatives in order to properly evaluate the social return on investment of each technology.
The benefit of evaluating the environmental impact of a technology before large‐scale deployment cannot be stressed enough. The United States wind industry has learned difficult lessons from its deployment of wind turbines at the Altamont Pass in California, where windmills have been found to kill at least one bird per year per turbine (Ritter 2005). Had there been a proper environmental impact study of the area, 4000 turbines might not have been sited in an important bird migration route, and the wind industry might not have received negative press surrounding the harmful environmental impacts of a prominent green technology. Mitigation efforts for new wind projects such as using radar to detect flocks of birds and furl turbine blades are now underway (Iberdrola 2009), but this type of technology could have been used from the inception of wind deployment.
The first part of this report touches on important environmental areas that must be considered when deploying Concentrator Photovoltaics (CPV). It does not attempt to evaluate the best sites for CPV development on an environmental basis. Rather, CPV is compared to other solar technologies and more broadly, to other electric power generating technologies with respect to key life cycle environmental metrics.

In the second part of this report, the possible future deployment of CPV is investigated using the SWITCH electric power sector capacity
expansion model, and the emissions benefits of including CPV in the future Western United States electric power system are discussed.

URLhttp://rael.berkeley.edu/Switch
AttachmentSize
Berkeley_CPV_Environmental Report_05_16_2012.pdf1.27 MB