A research agenda for life cycle assessment of electromobility
This is a pre-study, financed by the Swedish Energy Agency, with the aim of presenting a research agenda for life cycle assessment (LCA) of electromobility. Electric vehicles are often portrayed as potential remedies for numerous environmental problems, most notably global warming. At the same time, LCA studies already conducted have shown that electric vehicles can also worsen some environmental problems through increased use of abiotic resources and emissions of toxicity substances. Whether electric vehicles truly do reduce global warming impacts also depends on the production technology for the electricity. This type of ambiguous result calls for a systematic assessment of the environmental and resource performance of electromobility, such as by LCA. Considering the many overlapping issues related to LCA and electromobility, it can be thought of as a nexus, involving different technologies (batteries, fuel cells, electronics, electric motors, different vehicles, etc.) and different environmental issues (resource use, criticality thereof, energy-related emissions, etc.). In order to investigate which parts of this nexus are most interesting to study further, information was obtained from three sources: (1) workshops with relevant industry stakeholders, (2) interviews with researchers in the field, and (3) a literature study of key documents in the area of LCA of electromobility. The result is formulated into a research agenda for LCA of electromobility, which consists of ten research questions. Seven of these regard electromobility technologies important to study (e.g. future battery chemistries and electric aviation), whereas three regard methodological issues (e.g. impact assessment of abiotic resources). Two near-term research projects have been formulated, for which funding applications will be submitted during 2019, and together they cover a majority of the research questions.
Life cycle assessment