The composition of electricity varies significantly throughout the year. As a result, the environmental impact of the electricity mix is also highly variable. However, most LCA studies assume a static annual average electricity mix and neglect these fluctuations. Therefore, this study examines the time-varying environmental impacts of electricity generation in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Poland using a dynamic life cycle assessment. It shows that the impacts of environmental categories vary considerably depending on when the electricity is generated, resulting from the different energy generation patterns throughout the day and year. In particular, the integration of renewable energy sources such as photovoltaic systems and wind turbines leads to significant fluctuations of environmental impacts. To determine the magnitude of the variation, coefficients of variation are calculated for each environmental impact category for a representative year. High coefficients of variation of more than 20% can be observed for several environmental impact categories. In addition, both a production- based and a consumption-based approach were used for the dynamic life cycle assessment. Comparing these two approaches shows significant differences in impact category results, for example, for Italy, with an average of 15%. These differences highlight the importance of including cross-border electricity flows in assessing the environmental profile of electricity. Overall, the results of the study emphasize the need to implement dynamic electricity mix models in life cycle assessments, especially for systems with time-varying electricity consumption. The provided Excel spreadsheet files with hourly time profiles of environmental impacts for the countries studied facilitate the adoption of the developed models by other practitioners and provide a valuable tool for assessing environmental impacts.

Dynamic life cycle assessment of European electricity generation based on a retrospective approach

Jacopo Famiglietti;Mario Motta;
2024-01-01

Abstract

The composition of electricity varies significantly throughout the year. As a result, the environmental impact of the electricity mix is also highly variable. However, most LCA studies assume a static annual average electricity mix and neglect these fluctuations. Therefore, this study examines the time-varying environmental impacts of electricity generation in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Poland using a dynamic life cycle assessment. It shows that the impacts of environmental categories vary considerably depending on when the electricity is generated, resulting from the different energy generation patterns throughout the day and year. In particular, the integration of renewable energy sources such as photovoltaic systems and wind turbines leads to significant fluctuations of environmental impacts. To determine the magnitude of the variation, coefficients of variation are calculated for each environmental impact category for a representative year. High coefficients of variation of more than 20% can be observed for several environmental impact categories. In addition, both a production- based and a consumption-based approach were used for the dynamic life cycle assessment. Comparing these two approaches shows significant differences in impact category results, for example, for Italy, with an average of 15%. These differences highlight the importance of including cross-border electricity flows in assessing the environmental profile of electricity. Overall, the results of the study emphasize the need to implement dynamic electricity mix models in life cycle assessments, especially for systems with time-varying electricity consumption. The provided Excel spreadsheet files with hourly time profiles of environmental impacts for the countries studied facilitate the adoption of the developed models by other practitioners and provide a valuable tool for assessing environmental impacts.
2024
Dynamic life cycle assessment, Electricity mix modeling, Hourly profiles, Environmental impact, Energy system
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11311/1265863
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