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International Journal of Photoenergy
Volume 2012, Article ID 101968, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/101968
Research Article

Environmental Life-Cycle Analysis of Hybrid Solar Photovoltaic/Thermal Systems for Use in Hong Kong

1BEETRU, Division of Building Science and Technology, City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong
2Department of Thermal Science and Energy Engineering, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei 230026, China

Received 4 May 2012; Accepted 15 August 2012

Academic Editor: Christophe Menezo

Copyright © 2012 Tin-Tai Chow and Jie Ji. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

While sheet-and-tube absorber is generally recommended for flat-plate photovoltaic/thermal (PV/T) collector design because of the simplicity and promising performance, the use of rectangular-channel absorber is also tested to be a good alternative. Before a new energy technology, like PV/T, is fully implemented, its environmental superiority over the competing options should be assessed, for instance, by evaluating its consumption levels throughout its production and service life. Although there have been a plenty of environmental life-cycle assessments on the domestic solar hot water systems and PV systems, the related works on hybrid solar PV/T systems have been very few. So far there is no reported work on the assessment of PV/T collector with channel-type absorber design. This paper reports an evaluation of the energy payback time and the greenhouse gas payback time of free-standing and building-integrated PV/T systems in Hong Kong. This is based on two case studies of PV/T collectors with modular channel-type aluminium absorbers. The results confirm the long-term environmental benefits of PV/T applications.