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Geolocated Life Cycle Assessment models to evaluate the environmental performance of emerging renewable energy technologies: Application to floating offshore wind farms

Abstract : The large-scale development of renewable energy systems (RES) to satisfy the increasing energy demand and replace non-renewable fossil sources while reducing the environmental impact represents a major challenge from both socio-economic and environmental perspectives. Although RES are expected to have low resource consumption and pollutant emissions during the electricity production phase, manufacturing and end-of-life phases should be accounted for to ensure their environmental benefits compared to other energy systems. In this study, we propose the use of a geolocated Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to evaluate the environmental performance of emerging RES. The approach is applied to a pilot project of a floating offshore wind farm to be installed in the Mediterranean Sea. Since the environmental performance of RES is generally expressed as the ratio of the total impact of the technology over its life cycle to the corresponding electricity production, accurate estimates of both terms are essential for a reliable LCA. The total environmental impact over the RES life cycle strongly depends on the quality of data collected during the inventory phase. In this work, the material flows were mainly provided by direct measures from the project suppliers, which ensure the reliability of input data for the model. However, even if the total impacts are based on high-quality inventory data, the environmental performance can be to a large extent affected by uncertainties related to the electricity production. In the case of emerging RES, estimating this production may be particularly challenging due to the absence of historical data for existing installations, especially when dealing with variable resources such as wind or solar irradiation. For such systems, we have developed an approach that consists in parameterizing the electricity production component of the LCA model and coupling this parameterized model to existing geolocated meteorological databases to estimate the RES environmental performance in different locations before its installation. The proposed approach was applied to the floating offshore wind farm 1) to compute the environmental performance of the system accounting for the geolocated electricity production and 2) to identify the main parameters contributing to the evaluated impact categories. Additional sensitivity analyses showed the critical role of the lifetime and the wind data source as the main parameters influencing the environmental results.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, December 18, 2019 - 9:52:56 AM
Last modification on : Friday, December 3, 2021 - 4:26:02 PM
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  • HAL Id : hal-02417234, version 1


Paula Perez-Lopez, Baptiste Poujol, Jean Dubrana, Anne Prieur-Vernat, Romain Besseau, et al.. Geolocated Life Cycle Assessment models to evaluate the environmental performance of emerging renewable energy technologies: Application to floating offshore wind farms. SETAC Europe 29th Annual Meeting, May 2019, Helsinki, Finland. ⟨hal-02417234⟩



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