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Life cycle assessment applications to electrical energy production: a possible sustainability analysis tool

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2 Author(s)
F. Iannone ; Electrical Engineering Department of the Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy. e-mail: fernando.iannone@polimi.it ; D. Zaninelli

The increasing energy need, mainly provided by fossil fuel sources, has contributed to the increase of environmental impact. Global warming analysis, despite the uncertainties contained both in methodology and results, has caused high attention to energy production gas emission. Neglecting the used energy production technology, a power plant can be considered, together with the environment, as a close system. This means that environment effects of energy production, normally neglected, can be considered and evaluated. Climate change gas emissions are, according to scientific community, the main problem related to energy production on global scale but, considering local effect too, it is possible to see that the climate change is not the only environment effect present. For example noise and electromagnetic emissions, waste production and component maintenance can have effect on local eco-systems and people too. This paper proposes the application of life cycle assessment techniques and damage indicator evaluation in order to account the potential impact of electric energy production. The used impact indicators permits to evaluate, in addiction to climate change effects, other environmental impacts like effects on human healt and ecosystems. As a result it is possible to see that environmental aspects and energy-environment interaction can be analyzed with life cycle assessment methods. In addiction, environmental performance of a specific plant can be outlined from the design stage and life cycle assessment study can be used to review and enhance overall environmental performances.

Published in:

Power Engineering Society General Meeting, 2007. IEEE

Date of Conference:

24-28 June 2007