This article assesses the life cycle approach of renewable energy technologies. It is important that any new technology (Especially renewable energy technologies) be environmentally superior compared to existing technologies. The Life Cycle Assessment analyzes every aspect of a technologies life span, from the exploration of finding materials, to their production, to their ultimate recycling/disposal. The goal of this study is to examine the environmental performance of renewable energy systems in view of future developments.
The results show that renewable energy systems compare favorably to conventional ones. Materials used for renewable energy systems (iron ore, bauxite) were less than or similar to those used by conventional energy systems. However, the results show no clear evidence for or against renewable energies in association with their environmental impacts. Further developments will help mitigate environmental impacts of renewable systems. These include improved efficiency (emissions, longer life cycle), advances to energy converters, and advances towards external services associated with conventional delivery systems.