Michael Held


2 Life Cycle Assessment of Todays and Future Electricity Grid Mixes of EU27

Authors: Johannes Gantner, Michael Held, Matthias Fischer, Rafael Horn


At the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2015 a global agreement on the reduction of climate change was achieved stating CO₂ reduction targets for all countries. For instance, the EU targets a reduction of 40 percent in emissions by 2030 compared to 1990. In order to achieve this ambitious goal, the environmental performance of the different European electricity grid mixes is crucial. First, the electricity directly needed for everyone’s daily life (e.g. heating, plug load, mobility) and therefore a reduction of the environmental impacts of the electricity grid mix reduces the overall environmental impacts of a country. Secondly, the manufacturing of every product depends on electricity. Thereby a reduction of the environmental impacts of the electricity mix results in a further decrease of environmental impacts of every product. As a result, the implementation of the two-degree goal highly depends on the decarbonization of the European electricity mixes. Currently the production of electricity in the EU27 is based on fossil fuels and therefore bears a high GWP impact per kWh. Due to the importance of the environmental impacts of the electricity mix, not only today but also in future, within the European research projects, CommONEnergy and Senskin, time-dynamic Life Cycle Assessment models for all EU27 countries were set up. As a methodology, a combination of scenario modeling and life cycle assessment according to ISO14040 and ISO14044 was conducted. Based on EU27 trends regarding energy, transport, and buildings, the different national electricity mixes were investigated taking into account future changes such as amount of electricity generated in the country, change in electricity carriers, COP of the power plants and distribution losses, imports and exports. As results, time-dynamic environmental profiles for the electricity mixes of each country and for Europe overall were set up. Thereby for each European country, the decarbonization strategies of the electricity mix are critically investigated in order to identify decisions, that can lead to negative environmental effects, for instance on the reduction of the global warming of the electricity mix. For example, the withdrawal of the nuclear energy program in Germany and at the same time compensation of the missing energy by non-renewable energy carriers like lignite and natural gas is resulting in an increase in global warming potential of electricity grid mix. Just after two years this increase countervailed by the higher share of renewable energy carriers such as wind power and photovoltaic. Finally, as an outlook a first qualitative picture is provided, illustrating from environmental perspective, which country has the highest potential for low-carbon electricity production and therefore how investments in a connected European electricity grid could decrease the environmental impacts of the electricity mix in Europe.

Keywords: Life Cycle Assessment, Environmental Impacts, scenario analysis, electricity grid mixes, EU27 countries, future trends

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1 Considering Uncertainties of Input Parameters on Energy, Environmental Impacts and Life Cycle Costing by Monte Carlo Simulation in the Decision Making Process

Authors: Johannes Gantner, Michael Held, Matthias Fischer


The refurbishment of the building stock in terms of energy supply and efficiency is one of the major challenges of the German turnaround in energy policy. As the building sector accounts for 40% of Germany’s total energy demand, additional insulation is key for energy efficient refurbished buildings. Nevertheless the energetic benefits often the environmental and economic performances of insulation materials are questioned. The methods Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as well as Life Cycle Costing (LCC) can form the standardized basis for answering this doubts and more and more become important for material producers due efforts such as Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) or Environmental Product Declarations (EPD). Due to increasing use of LCA and LCC information for decision support the robustness and resilience of the results become crucial especially for support of decision and policy makers. LCA and LCC results are based on respective models which depend on technical parameters like efficiencies, material and energy demand, product output, etc.. Nevertheless, the influence of parameter uncertainties on lifecycle results are usually not considered or just studied superficially. Anyhow the effect of parameter uncertainties cannot be neglected. Based on the example of an exterior wall the overall lifecycle results are varying by a magnitude of more than three. As a result simple best case worst case analyses used in practice are not sufficient. These analyses allow for a first rude view on the results but are not taking effects into account such as error propagation. Thereby LCA practitioners cannot provide further guidance for decision makers. Probabilistic analyses enable LCA practitioners to gain deeper understanding of the LCA and LCC results and provide a better decision support. Within this study, the environmental and economic impacts of an exterior wall system over its whole lifecycle are illustrated, and the effect of different uncertainty analysis on the interpretation in terms of resilience and robustness are shown. Hereby the approaches of error propagation and Monte Carlo Simulations are applied and combined with statistical methods in order to allow for a deeper understanding and interpretation. All in all this study emphasis the need for a deeper and more detailed probabilistic evaluation based on statistical methods. Just by this, misleading interpretations can be avoided, and the results can be used for resilient and robust decisions.

Keywords: Life Cycle Costing, Uncertainty, Life Cycle Assessment, Monte Carlo Simulation

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