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A review on consequential life cycle assessment in the power sector


The existing policy for greenhouse gas (GHG) abatement aims at decarbonisation of the power sector. The interrelations between the power sector and other economic sectors raise a question of whether the GHG emission reduction policy in the power sector is as effective as it is claimed. Consequential life cycle assessment (CLCA) has been developed to assess the environmental impacts of any industrial/productive sector in relation with changes in the policy and its indirect impacts on other economic sectors. This review is conducted on CLCA studies in the power sector in terms of system boundaries expansion and socio-economic interactions and the ability to quantify indirect environmental impacts. It is indicated that CLCA expanded the system boundaries by applying mutatis mutandis assumption to include several affected products with various scales of change. Economic modelling tools are frequently applied to make assumptions on the extent of change. The applications of these tools also help to identify the environmental profile of product systems and the socio-economic changes such as economic growth and consumer behaviours. Thanks for the expansion of system boundaries and inclusion of socio-economic interactions, the total environmental impacts of power sector are comprehensively quantified. The variations of the total environmental impacts, with different magnitude of change, were observed in several reviewed case studies. In term of GHG emissions, some products become cleaner, for example battery; however, in most of the cases, the power system in general becomes more polluted when indirect impacts on other economic sectors are included.