Life cycle assessment integration into energy system models: An application for Power-to-Methane in the EU

Herib Blanco, Victor Codina, Alexis Laurent, Wouter Nijs, François Maréchal, André Faaij

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

As the EU energy system transitions to low carbon, the technology choices should consider a broader set of criteria. The use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) prevents burden shift across life cycle stages or impact categories, while the use of Energy System Models (ESM) allows evaluating alternative policies, capacity evolution and covering all the sectors. This study does an ex-post LCA analysis of results from JRC-EU-TIMES and estimates the environmental impact indicators across 18 categories in scenarios that achieve 80–95% CO2 emission reduction by 2050. Results indicate that indirect CO2 emissions can be as large as direct ones for an 80% CO2 reduction target and up to three times as large for 95% CO2 reduction. Impact across most categories decreases by 20–40% as the CO2 emission target becomes stricter. However, toxicity related impacts can become 35–100% higher. The integrated framework was also used to evaluate the Power-to-Methane (PtM) system to relate the electricity mix and various CO2 sources to the PtM environmental impact. To be more attractive than natural gas, the climate change impact of the electricity used for PtM should be 123–181 gCO2eq/kWh when the CO2 comes from air or biogenic sources and 4–62 gCO2eq/kWh if the CO2 is from fossil fuels. PtM can have an impact up to 10 times larger for impact categories other than climate change. A system without PtM results in ~4% higher climate change impact and 9% higher fossil depletion, while having 5–15% lower impact for most of the other categories. This is based on a scenario where 9 parameters favor PtM deployment and establishes the upper bound of the environmental impact PtM can have. Further studies should work towards integrating LCA feedback into ESM and standardizing the methodology.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114160
JournalApplied Energy
Volume259
ISSN0306-2619
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • TIMES
  • Ecoinvent
  • Consequential LCA
  • Environmental impact
  • Ex-post analysis
  • Power-to-Gas

Cite this

Blanco, Herib ; Codina, Victor ; Laurent, Alexis ; Nijs, Wouter ; Maréchal, François ; Faaij, André. / Life cycle assessment integration into energy system models: An application for Power-to-Methane in the EU. In: Applied Energy. 2020 ; Vol. 259.
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title = "Life cycle assessment integration into energy system models: An application for Power-to-Methane in the EU",
abstract = "As the EU energy system transitions to low carbon, the technology choices should consider a broader set of criteria. The use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) prevents burden shift across life cycle stages or impact categories, while the use of Energy System Models (ESM) allows evaluating alternative policies, capacity evolution and covering all the sectors. This study does an ex-post LCA analysis of results from JRC-EU-TIMES and estimates the environmental impact indicators across 18 categories in scenarios that achieve 80–95{\%} CO2 emission reduction by 2050. Results indicate that indirect CO2 emissions can be as large as direct ones for an 80{\%} CO2 reduction target and up to three times as large for 95{\%} CO2 reduction. Impact across most categories decreases by 20–40{\%} as the CO2 emission target becomes stricter. However, toxicity related impacts can become 35–100{\%} higher. The integrated framework was also used to evaluate the Power-to-Methane (PtM) system to relate the electricity mix and various CO2 sources to the PtM environmental impact. To be more attractive than natural gas, the climate change impact of the electricity used for PtM should be 123–181 gCO2eq/kWh when the CO2 comes from air or biogenic sources and 4–62 gCO2eq/kWh if the CO2 is from fossil fuels. PtM can have an impact up to 10 times larger for impact categories other than climate change. A system without PtM results in ~4{\%} higher climate change impact and 9{\%} higher fossil depletion, while having 5–15{\%} lower impact for most of the other categories. This is based on a scenario where 9 parameters favor PtM deployment and establishes the upper bound of the environmental impact PtM can have. Further studies should work towards integrating LCA feedback into ESM and standardizing the methodology.",
keywords = "TIMES, Ecoinvent, Consequential LCA, Environmental impact, Ex-post analysis, Power-to-Gas",
author = "Herib Blanco and Victor Codina and Alexis Laurent and Wouter Nijs and Fran{\cc}ois Mar{\'e}chal and Andr{\'e} Faaij",
year = "2020",
doi = "10.1016/j.apenergy.2019.114160",
language = "English",
volume = "259",
journal = "Applied Energy",
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Life cycle assessment integration into energy system models: An application for Power-to-Methane in the EU. / Blanco, Herib; Codina, Victor; Laurent, Alexis; Nijs, Wouter; Maréchal, François; Faaij, André.

In: Applied Energy, Vol. 259, 114160, 2020.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Life cycle assessment integration into energy system models: An application for Power-to-Methane in the EU

AU - Blanco, Herib

AU - Codina, Victor

AU - Laurent, Alexis

AU - Nijs, Wouter

AU - Maréchal, François

AU - Faaij, André

PY - 2020

Y1 - 2020

N2 - As the EU energy system transitions to low carbon, the technology choices should consider a broader set of criteria. The use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) prevents burden shift across life cycle stages or impact categories, while the use of Energy System Models (ESM) allows evaluating alternative policies, capacity evolution and covering all the sectors. This study does an ex-post LCA analysis of results from JRC-EU-TIMES and estimates the environmental impact indicators across 18 categories in scenarios that achieve 80–95% CO2 emission reduction by 2050. Results indicate that indirect CO2 emissions can be as large as direct ones for an 80% CO2 reduction target and up to three times as large for 95% CO2 reduction. Impact across most categories decreases by 20–40% as the CO2 emission target becomes stricter. However, toxicity related impacts can become 35–100% higher. The integrated framework was also used to evaluate the Power-to-Methane (PtM) system to relate the electricity mix and various CO2 sources to the PtM environmental impact. To be more attractive than natural gas, the climate change impact of the electricity used for PtM should be 123–181 gCO2eq/kWh when the CO2 comes from air or biogenic sources and 4–62 gCO2eq/kWh if the CO2 is from fossil fuels. PtM can have an impact up to 10 times larger for impact categories other than climate change. A system without PtM results in ~4% higher climate change impact and 9% higher fossil depletion, while having 5–15% lower impact for most of the other categories. This is based on a scenario where 9 parameters favor PtM deployment and establishes the upper bound of the environmental impact PtM can have. Further studies should work towards integrating LCA feedback into ESM and standardizing the methodology.

AB - As the EU energy system transitions to low carbon, the technology choices should consider a broader set of criteria. The use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) prevents burden shift across life cycle stages or impact categories, while the use of Energy System Models (ESM) allows evaluating alternative policies, capacity evolution and covering all the sectors. This study does an ex-post LCA analysis of results from JRC-EU-TIMES and estimates the environmental impact indicators across 18 categories in scenarios that achieve 80–95% CO2 emission reduction by 2050. Results indicate that indirect CO2 emissions can be as large as direct ones for an 80% CO2 reduction target and up to three times as large for 95% CO2 reduction. Impact across most categories decreases by 20–40% as the CO2 emission target becomes stricter. However, toxicity related impacts can become 35–100% higher. The integrated framework was also used to evaluate the Power-to-Methane (PtM) system to relate the electricity mix and various CO2 sources to the PtM environmental impact. To be more attractive than natural gas, the climate change impact of the electricity used for PtM should be 123–181 gCO2eq/kWh when the CO2 comes from air or biogenic sources and 4–62 gCO2eq/kWh if the CO2 is from fossil fuels. PtM can have an impact up to 10 times larger for impact categories other than climate change. A system without PtM results in ~4% higher climate change impact and 9% higher fossil depletion, while having 5–15% lower impact for most of the other categories. This is based on a scenario where 9 parameters favor PtM deployment and establishes the upper bound of the environmental impact PtM can have. Further studies should work towards integrating LCA feedback into ESM and standardizing the methodology.

KW - TIMES

KW - Ecoinvent

KW - Consequential LCA

KW - Environmental impact

KW - Ex-post analysis

KW - Power-to-Gas

U2 - 10.1016/j.apenergy.2019.114160

DO - 10.1016/j.apenergy.2019.114160

M3 - Journal article

VL - 259

JO - Applied Energy

JF - Applied Energy

SN - 0306-2619

M1 - 114160

ER -