Volume 31: Clean Energy Technologies towards Carbon Neutrality

Life cycle assessment (LCA) of electricity generation technologies in China: Overview, comparability and limitations Yinchen Liu , Xiaoyu Yan



Electricity sector is a main contributor of
greenhouse gas (GHG), NOx, SO2 and PM2.5 and related
environmental impact in China. This research conducted
a critical review of 36 studies containing 51 cases
involving 10 electricity generation technologies in China
to analyze the ranges of emission data for GHG, NOx, SO2
and PM2.5, summarize the current LCA methodologies
and the key indicators like impact categories and
temporal scale. The results showed it’s incomplete to
measure the environmental performance of an
electricity generation technology solely based on GHG
emission. Emissions data were set and evaluated at
different life cycle stages for different electricity
generation technologies. Emissions from fuel
combustion contributed the majority of the life cycle
emissions for fossil fuel power, up to 90% for GHG, 70%
for SO2, similarly, biomass fuel provision accounted the
largest share of emissions for biomass technologies, up
to 85% for GHG. Emission and environmental impacts
from plant infrastructure contributed the largest share
for renewable energies. And the emission of end-of-life
treatment from renewable energies can offset
considerable life cycle emissions. The results from this
review provided a concrete and balanced basis for
further LCA modelling in the China’s whole electricity

Keywords electricity sector, LCA, renewable energy, energy systems for power generation

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