The complexity and challenges of determining GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions from grid electricity consumption and conservation in LCA (life cycle assessment)

A methodological review

Sampo Soimakallio (Corresponding Author), Juha Kiviluoma, L. Saikku

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The way in which GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions associated with grid electricity consumption is handled in different LCA (life cycle assessment) studies, varies significantly. Apart from differences in actual research questions, methodological choices and data set selection have a significant impact on the outcomes. These inconsistencies result in difficulties to compare the findings of various LCA studies. This review paper explores the issue from a methodological point of view. The perspectives of ALCA (attributional life cycle assessment) and CLCA (consequential life cycle assessment) are reflected. Finally, the paper summarizes the key issues and provides suggestions on the way forward. The major challenge related to both of the LCA categories is to determine the GHG emissions of the power production technologies under consideration. Furthermore, the specific challenge in ALCA is to determine the appropriate electricity production mix, and in CLCA, to identify the marginal technologies affected and related consequences. Significant uncertainties are involved, particularly in future-related LCAs, and these should not be ignored. Harmonization of the methods and data sets for various purposes is suggested, acknowledging that selections might be subjective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6705-6713
Number of pages9
JournalEnergy
Volume36
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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Gas emissions
Greenhouse gases
Life cycle
Conservation
Electricity

Keywords

  • Electricity market
  • greenhouse gas emission
  • life cycle assessment
  • uncertainty

Cite this

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title = "The complexity and challenges of determining GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions from grid electricity consumption and conservation in LCA (life cycle assessment): A methodological review",
abstract = "The way in which GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions associated with grid electricity consumption is handled in different LCA (life cycle assessment) studies, varies significantly. Apart from differences in actual research questions, methodological choices and data set selection have a significant impact on the outcomes. These inconsistencies result in difficulties to compare the findings of various LCA studies. This review paper explores the issue from a methodological point of view. The perspectives of ALCA (attributional life cycle assessment) and CLCA (consequential life cycle assessment) are reflected. Finally, the paper summarizes the key issues and provides suggestions on the way forward. The major challenge related to both of the LCA categories is to determine the GHG emissions of the power production technologies under consideration. Furthermore, the specific challenge in ALCA is to determine the appropriate electricity production mix, and in CLCA, to identify the marginal technologies affected and related consequences. Significant uncertainties are involved, particularly in future-related LCAs, and these should not be ignored. Harmonization of the methods and data sets for various purposes is suggested, acknowledging that selections might be subjective.",
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The complexity and challenges of determining GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions from grid electricity consumption and conservation in LCA (life cycle assessment) : A methodological review. / Soimakallio, Sampo (Corresponding Author); Kiviluoma, Juha; Saikku, L.

In: Energy, Vol. 36, No. 12, 2011, p. 6705-6713.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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AB - The way in which GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions associated with grid electricity consumption is handled in different LCA (life cycle assessment) studies, varies significantly. Apart from differences in actual research questions, methodological choices and data set selection have a significant impact on the outcomes. These inconsistencies result in difficulties to compare the findings of various LCA studies. This review paper explores the issue from a methodological point of view. The perspectives of ALCA (attributional life cycle assessment) and CLCA (consequential life cycle assessment) are reflected. Finally, the paper summarizes the key issues and provides suggestions on the way forward. The major challenge related to both of the LCA categories is to determine the GHG emissions of the power production technologies under consideration. Furthermore, the specific challenge in ALCA is to determine the appropriate electricity production mix, and in CLCA, to identify the marginal technologies affected and related consequences. Significant uncertainties are involved, particularly in future-related LCAs, and these should not be ignored. Harmonization of the methods and data sets for various purposes is suggested, acknowledging that selections might be subjective.

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