Towards clearer reporting of energy use in LCA: Recommendation of a framework and comparison to prominent databases
Conference contribution, 2014
Energy is, along with land and water, an essential resource and much of society’s production relies on the availability of energy. Not surprisingly, it has therefore been one of the most assessed parameters in environmental assessments of different products. However, even after decades of development and application of methods for energy use assessment, we have found that methods applied are often arbitrarily chosen, inconsistently applied and poorly motivated and described in LCA case studies in literature. For example, the difference between primary and secondary energy use is often ignored or unclearly reported, and the inclusion or exclusion of feedstock energy is seldom described. Building on earlier work involving reviews of energy use assessments of biofuels, a new framework of energy use reporting is suggested and discussed in relation to the needs of different decision-making situations. This framework allows the analyst to be transparent in energy use reporting. It is further argued that the new model would provide more useful results in many situations and would encourage conscious and relevant selection of energy use indicator. Among other things, the model highlights the level of renewability of the energy and the energy content in extracted material. The framework is compared to how energy use is reported in prominent LCA databases such as Ecoinvent and GaBi.