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Report RSE 17001866

LCA of electric grid components: guidelines for the Italian context



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P. Girardi (RSE SpA) , A. Temporelli (RSE SpA), A. Gargiulo (RSE SpA)

MON4-GRID 2016 - Management, monitoring and control of the transmission grid


Electric grids development, thanks the strong grow of renewable energy source, is a relevant theme for reaching environmental, energy and social goals.

Electric grids environmental aspects and their effect on the entire electric system, from generation to distribution, are topics which deserve to be examined. The target is to give a support to develop lower environmental impact technologies and to choose more sustainable electric components.

It’s necessary to consider environmental consequences connected with the energy field, so it seemed opportune to use a life cycle approach to realize this kind of analysis.

Life Cycle Assessment methodology is the best and suitable instrument for this specific case. LCA approach allows to analyse all electric components’ life phases, in order to evaluate the electric component’s environmental profile.

In this report are described the guidelines to realize electric components LCA, considering all components life phases and describing all variables of the study which have to consider to realize electric components environmental impacts:

Electric components’ LCA could be useful in the following situations:

• To identify the opportunities able to improve product/services environmental performances during every phase of their life cycle.
• To inform and support subjects and stakeholders about grid fulfilment and development.
• To give a relevant set of indicators to evaluate electric components environmental performances.

In this framework it seems useful to have a reference on how to conduct a LCA of electric grids and electric grid components. To this end in this report we propose guidelines to carry out LCA electric components, considering all components life phases and describing how to deal with the main steps of LCA study and noticeable with:

• Goal and scope phase: functional unit definition, system boundaries identification, impact categories and allocation system selection.
• Life Cycle Inventory – LCI: data collection to define all electric components life phases (production, installation, use, maintenance, decommission and disposal) with particular attention to the use phase (network losses and electric mix definition).
• Uncertainty and sensitivity analysis: evaluation of LCA final result reliability basing on previous experience and people judgement which previously realized similar analysis.

Starting from these phases this work gives a support network development plans or projects over a long time horizon, in order to consider all possible impacts generated by electric grids and components during their entire life cycle.

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