Abstract

We suggest a 2D-plot representation combined with life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and life cycle cost for various energy conversion technologies. In general, life cycle assessment (LCA) not only analyzes at the use phase of a specific technology, but also covers widely related processes of before and after its use. We use life cycle GHG emissions and life cycle cost (LCC) to compare the energy conversion process for eight resources such as coal, natural gas, nuclear power, hydro power, geothermal power, wind power, solar thermal power, and solar photovoltaic (PV) power based on the reported LCA and LCC data. Among the eight sources, solar PV and nuclear power exhibit the highest and the lowest LCCs, respectively. On the other hand, coal and wind power locate the highest and the lowest life cycle GHG emissions. In addition, we used the 2D plot to show the life cycle performance of GHG emissions and LCCs simultaneously and realized a correlation that life cycle GHG emission is largely inversely proportional to the corresponding LCCs. It means that an expensive energy source with high LCC tends to have low life cycle GHG emissions, or is environmental friendly. For future study, we will measure the technological maturity of the energy sources to determine the direction of the specific technology development based on the 2D plot of LCCs versus life cycle GHG emissions.

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