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Life cycle assessment of the transmission network in Great Britain

Author

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

Abstract

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
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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.
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    Citations

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    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.

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