Life-cycle energy analysis of domestic hot water systems in Melbourne, Australia

  • YEAR
    Crawford, Robert H
    Treloar, Graham J.
    2006 Conference Papers
    Building and Energy


ABSTRACT: Solar hot water systems are seen as a viable alternative for providing hot water to
households. Whilst solar hot water systems have been shown to provide savings in operational energy
consumption when compared to the alternative conventional systems, it is important to consider the
life-cycle implications of these systems. In addition to the energy required for their operation, energy is
also required for the manufacture of the systems (embodied energy), maintenance and
decommissioning. This paper presents the results of a life-cycle energy analysis of solar hot water
systems, comparing them with conventional hot water systems in Melbourne, Australia. The study
builds on a previous study by including ‘capital’ energy, the energy to make buildings and equipment
amortised over the life of the industry. For a whole building, capital energy required upstream can
represent 22% of the total embodied energy. There was a concern that by taking this wider definition of
embodied energy that previous results may be invalid. It was found, however, that despite significant
increases to the embodied energy through the inclusion of capital energy, the life-cycle energy was still
dominated by the energy used to operate the hot water systems, even accounting for the solar fraction.


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