Life Cycle Assessment of Energy System Transitions

The overarching research question is what are the economy-wide and global environmental impacts associated with up to six different energy transition pathways? At UCalgary, up to three unconventional resource pathways will be incorporated into the assessment framework. Renewable resource pathways will be incorporated into the framework (e.g., wind, solar and biomass). These pathways will be compared for generalized insights and comparative environmental consequences than has been considered today. This project aims at addressing the environmental impacts of policy developed in various jurisdictions with limited focus on environmental impacts in other jurisdictions. For example, Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan aims at increasing the contribution of renewable energy in Alberta’s energy up to 30% by 2030. It is expected that this will lead to increased power generation from wind and solar sources. Although it is anticipated that this will help to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from Alberta’s electricity generation sector, a new challenge is introduced in that the solar panels and wind turbines is not ex[ected to be manufactured in Alberta. It is more likely that most of these would be imported from other jurisdictions including other provinces in Canada, USA, Europe and Asian Countries. Hence the result is that this will have environmental impacts globally and the life cycle GHG footprints would be different than what would be considered if the boundary was drawn around Alberta (the current focus of policy measures). Even beyond GHG emissions, there is potential for negative environmental consequences throughout the supply chain of the various energy sources being considered for deployment in Alberta. The proposed project is aimed at addressing these questions.