DOI: 10.3390/en16237847 ISSN: 1996-1073

Environmental Impact of Electricity Generation Technologies: A Comparison between Conventional, Nuclear, and Renewable Technologies

Giambattista Guidi, Anna Carmela Violante, Simona De Iuliis
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Control and Optimization
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Building and Construction

The transformation of the energy sector, based on the development of low-carbon technologies, is essential to achieve climate neutrality. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a powerful methodology for assessing the environmental impact of energy technologies, which proves to be a useful tool for policy makers. The paper is a review of the main LCA studies of power generation systems performed over the past ten years aiming at comparing the energy technologies to identify those with the lowest impact on the environment, evaluated in terms of gCO2eq/kWh emissions. Screening criteria were established to include only studies of the highest qualitative significance. The authors decided to assign greater weight to emission values reported in more recent studies. For nuclear and renewable energy technologies, most of the emissions are related to the pre-operational phases. Notably, both nuclear and wind technologies, along with other renewable sources throughout their entire life cycle, exhibit significantly lower and less variable emissions compared with conventional gas- and coal-fired technologies.

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