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Life-cycle assessment in the renewable energy sector


  • Góralczyk, Malgorzata


The Polish energy industry is facing challenges regarding energetic safety, competitiveness, improvement of domestic companies and environmental protection. Ecological guidelines concern the elimination of detrimental solutions, and effective energy management, which will form the basis for sustainable development. The Polish power industry is required to systematically increase the share of energy taken from renewable sources in the total energy sold to customers. Besides the economic issues, particular importance is assigned to environmental factors associated with the choice of energy source. That is where life-cycle assessment (LCA) is important. The main purpose of LCA is to identify the environmental impacts of goods and services during the whole life cycle of the product or service. Therefore LCA can be applied to assess the impact on the environment of electricity generation and will allow producers to make better decisions pertaining to environmental protection. The renewable energy sources analysed in this paper include the energy from photovoltaics, wind turbines and hydroelectric power. The goal and scope of the analysis comprise the assessment of environmental impacts of production of 1 GJ of energy from the sources mentioned above. The study will cover the construction, operation and waste disposal at each power plant. Analysis will cover the impact categories, where the environmental influence is the most significant, i.e. resource depletion, global warmth potential, acidification and eutrophication. The LCA results will be shown on the basis of European and Australian research. This analysis will be extended with a comparison between environmental impacts of energy from renewable and conventional sources. This report will conclude with an analysis of possibilities of application of the existing research results and LCA rules in the Polish energy industry with a focus on Poland's future accession to the European Union. Definitions of LCA fundamental concepts, its methodology and application are described in the ISO 14040-14049 series of standards. These standards have already been introduced in some countries, but in Poland they are still at the stage of translation into Polish. Nevertheless some companies in Poland try to assess how their products influence the environment and what are the possibilities of technology improvement in the existing production process reduce their environmental impact.

Suggested Citation

  • Góralczyk, Malgorzata, 2003. "Life-cycle assessment in the renewable energy sector," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 75(3-4), pages 205-211, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:75:y:2003:i:3-4:p:205-211

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    2. Schenk, Niels J. & Moll, Henri C. & Schoot Uiterkamp, Anton J.M., 2007. "Meso-level analysis, the missing link in energy strategies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 1505-1516, March.
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    8. Patlitzianas, Konstantinos D. & Kagiannas, Argyris G. & Askounis, Dimitris Th. & Psarras, John, 2005. "The policy perspective for RES development in the new member states of the EU," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 477-492.
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    10. Savino, Matteo M. & Manzini, Riccardo & Della Selva, Vincenzo & Accorsi, Riccardo, 2017. "A new model for environmental and economic evaluation of renewable energy systems: The case of wind turbines," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 189(C), pages 739-752.
    11. Ardente, Fulvio & Beccali, Marco & Cellura, Maurizio & Lo Brano, Valerio, 2008. "Energy performances and life cycle assessment of an Italian wind farm," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 200-217, January.
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    13. Xu, Jiuping & Li, Zongmin, 2012. "A review on Ecological Engineering based Engineering Management," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 368-378.
    14. Ardente, Fulvio & Beccali, Giorgio & Cellura, Maurizio & Lo Brano, Valerio, 2005. "Life cycle assessment of a solar thermal collector," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 30(7), pages 1031-1054.
    15. Cho, Hyun Jun & Kim, Jin-Kuk & Ahmed, Faisal & Yeo, Yeong-Koo, 2013. "Life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions and energy balances of a biodiesel production from palm fatty acid distillate (PFAD)," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 479-488.
    16. Liu, Hongtao & Polenske, Karen R. & Xi, Youmin & Guo, Ju'e, 2010. "Comprehensive evaluation of effects of straw-based electricity generation: A Chinese case," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 6153-6160, October.
    17. Varun, & Prakash, Ravi & Bhat, I.K., 2012. "Life cycle greenhouse gas emissions estimation for small hydropower schemes in India," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 498-508.
    18. Amponsah, Nana Yaw & Troldborg, Mads & Kington, Bethany & Aalders, Inge & Hough, Rupert Lloyd, 2014. "Greenhouse gas emissions from renewable energy sources: A review of lifecycle considerations," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 461-475.
    19. Chua, K.J. & Yang, W.M. & Er, S.S. & Ho, C.A., 2014. "Sustainable energy systems for a remote island community," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 1752-1763.

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