IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Life cycle assessment of the transmission network in Great Britain


  • Harrison, Gareth P.
  • Maclean, Edward (Ned). J.
  • Karamanlis, Serafeim
  • Ochoa, Luis F.


Analysis of lower carbon power systems has tended to focus on the operational carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power stations. However, to achieve the large cuts required it is necessary to understand the whole-life contribution of all sectors of the electricity industry. Here, a preliminary assessment of the life cycle carbon emissions of the transmission network in Great Britain is presented. Using a 40-year period and assuming a static generation mix it shows that the carbon equivalent emissions (or global warming potential) of the transmission network are around 11Â gCO2-eq/kWh of electricity transmitted and that almost 19 times more energy is transmitted by the network than is used in its construction and operation. Operational emissions account for 96% of this with transmission losses alone totalling 85% and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) emissions featuring significantly. However, the CO2 embodied within the raw materials of the network infrastructure itself represents a modest 3%. Transmission investment decisions informed by whole-life cycle carbon assessments of network design could balance higher financial and carbon 'capital' costs of larger conductors with lower transmission losses and CO2 emissions over the network lifetime. This will, however, necessitate new regulatory approaches to properly incentivise transmission companies.

Suggested Citation

  • Harrison, Gareth P. & Maclean, Edward (Ned). J. & Karamanlis, Serafeim & Ochoa, Luis F., 2010. "Life cycle assessment of the transmission network in Great Britain," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 3622-3631, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:38:y:2010:i:7:p:3622-3631

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Meier, Paul J. & Wilson, Paul P. H. & Kulcinski, Gerald L. & Denholm, Paul L., 2005. "US electric industry response to carbon constraint: a life-cycle assessment of supply side alternatives," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(9), pages 1099-1108, June.
    2. Fthenakis, Vasilis M. & Kim, Hyung Chul, 2007. "Greenhouse-gas emissions from solar electric- and nuclear power: A life-cycle study," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 2549-2557, April.
    3. Weisser, Daniel, 2007. "A guide to life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from electric supply technologies," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 1543-1559.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Heetae Kim & Petter Holme, 2015. "Network Theory Integrated Life Cycle Assessment for an Electric Power System," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(8), pages 1-15, August.
    2. Pfenninger, Stefan & Keirstead, James, 2015. "Renewables, nuclear, or fossil fuels? Scenarios for Great Britain’s power system considering costs, emissions and energy security," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 83-93.
    3. Hu, Zhuangli & Zhang, Yongjun & Li, Canbing & Li, Jing & Cao, Yijia & Luo, Diansheng & Cao, Huazhen, 2015. "Utilization efficiency of electrical equipment within life cycle assessment: Indexes, analysis and a case," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 885-896.
    4. Lucas, Alexandre & Alexandra Silva, Carla & Costa Neto, Rui, 2012. "Life cycle analysis of energy supply infrastructure for conventional and electric vehicles," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 537-547.
    5. Daniels, Laura & Coker, Phil & Potter, Ben, 2016. "Embodied carbon dioxide of network assets in a decarbonised electricity grid," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 180(C), pages 142-154.
    6. Lucas, Alexandre & Neto, Rui Costa & Silva, Carla Alexandra, 2013. "Energy supply infrastructure LCA model for electric and hydrogen transportation systems," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 70-80.
    7. Daniels, Laura & Coker, Phil & Gunn, Alice & Potter, Ben, 2016. "Using proxies to calculate the carbon impact of investment into electricity network assets," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 551-560.
    8. Arvesen, Anders & Hauan, Ingrid Bjerke & Bolsøy, Bernhard Mikal & Hertwich, Edgar G., 2015. "Life cycle assessment of transport of electricity via different voltage levels: A case study for Nord-Trøndelag county in Norway," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 144-151.
    9. Jorge, Raquel S. & Hertwich, Edgar G., 2013. "Environmental evaluation of power transmission in Norway," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 513-520.
    10. Harris, Irina & Mumford, Christine L. & Naim, Mohamed M., 2014. "A hybrid multi-objective approach to capacitated facility location with flexible store allocation for green logistics modeling," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 1-22.
    11. Garcia, Rita & Marques, Pedro & Freire, Fausto, 2014. "Life-cycle assessment of electricity in Portugal," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 563-572.
    12. Jorge, Raquel S. & Hertwich, Edgar G., 2014. "Grid infrastructure for renewable power in Europe: The environmental cost," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 760-768.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:38:y:2010:i:7:p:3622-3631. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.