Master's Thesis Robin Donat


Life Cycle Assessment of Electricity Generation in Germany on the Basis of Selected Scenarios for the Year 2050

Life Cycle Assessment Copyright: EBC Comparison of greenhouse gas emissions of the electricity generation per kilowatt hour, divided into generation technologies, for the reference year 2017 and for the selected scenarios in the years 2030 and 2050

The German government’s Climate Action Plan contains ambitious objectives for the year 2050. The transformation of the electricity sector plays a decisive role in the energy transition. The environmental impacts of electricity generation in the year 2050 are therefore investigated.

In order to determine plausible electricity generation mixes, electricity generation data from selected energy scenarios is analyzed. For the relevant electricity generation technologies, the technological and market-dependent developments up to 2050 are examined on the basis of literature research.

First the individual generation technologies and then the selected electricity generation mixes are examined according to the life cycle assessment method. For the life cycle inventories of the individual generation technologies an average technology level for the years 2017, 2030 and 2050 is determined based on the previously conducted investigation of the technological and market-dependent developments.

The life cycle assessments of the individual technologies show that the environmental impacts are decreasing in almost all cases. However, there are significant differences between the individual technologies in many impact categories.

The analysis of the environmental impacts of the selected scenarios generally shows a positive development for almost all impact categories, with the results being strongly depending on the electricity generation mixes. For the selected scenarios, the greenhouse gas emissions of one kilowatt hour of electricity in 2050 will be between 62 and 144 g CO2-eq, which is a significant reduction compared to the previously calculated emissions of 488 g CO2-eq in 2017.

The findings of this work allow an assessment of the future environmental impacts of different electricity generation technologies and electricity generation mixes and can therefore serve as an initial assessment for actors from research, politics and industry in the field of energy research, energy policy and the energy industry. At the same time, this work provides the interested society with a fundamental overview of future electricity generation and with a differentiated classification of electricity generation technologies.