Life Cycle Analysis of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Water Consumption of Energy Resources
- Michael Matturro (ExxonMobil Research & Engineering Company) | Ramkumar Karuppiah (Exxonmobil Research & Engineering Company) | Ian J. Laurenzi (Exxonmobil Research & Engineering Company) | Adam Usadi (Exxonmobil Research & Engineering Company) | Venkatesh Vasudevan (Exxonmobil Research & Engineering Company) | Aranya Venkatesh (Exxonmobil Research & Engineering Company)
- Document ID
- World Petroleum Congress
- 21st World Petroleum Congress, 15-19 June, Moscow, Russia
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 2014. World Petroleum Council
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- 110 since 2007
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As the world pursues conventional, unconventional, and emerging energy resources to meet current and future energy needs, it is important to understand the relative environmental footprints of these resources over their full life cycles. Complete and accurate life cycle assessments (LCAs) can provide such insights to support meaningful business investment as well as informed government policy. A well formulated LCA requires proper articulation of environmental metrics, definition of system boundaries, acquisition of accurate and high quality data, development of realistic process models, characterization of data quality, and interpretation of results.
We present results of LCAs for power generation from shale gas and for production of vehicle fuels from conventional oil, heavy oil, and algae biofuels. These LCAs focus on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and water consumption over the full life cycle of the energy scenario and elucidate which factors are the major contributors , thus highlighting areas for reducing emissions through technical innovation. We also discuss how we account for variability, uncertainty, and data gaps for robust interpretation of the results.
What is LCA for Energy?
Increasing attention is being placed on the environmental impact of energy resources. Accurate quantification of these impacts requires the use of robust metrics, transparent methodologies, and proper interpretation. To this end, life cycle assessment (LCA) has become the accepted approach, as it estimates the “complete” environmental impact of a product or process, i.e. “cradle to grave”. Since 1997, the general procedure has been codified by ISO (1). However, there exists considerable flexibility in the guidelines, allowing for the environmental characterization of a wide range of products including newly emerging energy resources.
Preeminent uses of LCA include (1) the comparison of alternative products and (2) the identification of the relative environmental impacts of processes leading to a particular product. Both uses are illustrated in Figure 1.
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