Life Cycle Analyses and Resource Assessments
Prof. Ulgiati stresses that we should always use an ecosystem view when transforming energy from one form to another. Sustainable growth and development of both environmental and human-dominated systems require optimum use of available resources for maximum power output. We have to adapt to the laws of nature because nature has to take care of all the waste products we produce. The presentation addresses a much needed shift away from linear production and consumption pattern, toward reorganization of economies and lifestyle that takes complexity—of resources, of the environment and of the economy—into proper account. The best way to reach maximum yield from the different kinds of biomass is to use biorefineries. Biorefinery is defined as the sustainable processing of biomass into a spectrum of marketable products like heat, power, fuels, chemicals, food, feed, and materials. However, biomass from agricultural land must be used for the production of food and not fuel. Prof. Voss focuses on the sustainability of energy supply chains and energy systems. Life cycle analyses (LCA) provides the conceptual framework for a comprehensive comparative evaluation of energy supply options with regard to their resource requirements as well as the health and environmental impact. Full scope LCA considers not only the emissions from plant operation, construction, and decommissioning but also the environmental burdens and resource requirements associated with the entire lifetime of all relevant upstream and downstream processes within the energy chain. This article describes the results of LCA analyses for state-of-the-art heating and electricity systems as well as of advanced future systems. Total costs are used as a measure for the overall resource consumption.
KeywordsSystems ecology Bioenergy/biofuels Sustainability Resource consumption Discounting
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