Hydropower is the largest renewable source of electricity generation, the carbon emissions of which have attracted a lot attention. However, the system boundaries of existing studies are either incomplete or inaccurate. Therefore, this study provides a systems accounting framework for evaluating both the direct and indirect carbon emissions from a hydropower plant. It is based on the hybrid method as a combination of the process analysis and the input-output analysis. To demonstrate the framework, a case study for a typical pumped storage hydropower plant (NPSHP) is carried out. The total carbon emissions are estimated as 5828.39 kt in the life-cycle of the case system. The end-of-use stage causes the largest carbon emissions (38.4%), followed by the construction stage (34.5%), the operation stage (25.6%), and the preparation stage (1.5%). The direct carbon emissions are mainly released from sediments in the end-of-use stage and the surface of reservoirs in the operation stage (94.8%). The indirect carbon emissions are 2.8 times higher than the direct carbon emissions. The material, machinery, energy, and service inputs respectively account for 7.1%, 14.7%, 15.9%, and 62.3% of the total indirect carbon emissions by the case system. The indicator of EGOC (electricity generation on carbon emission) for the NPSHP is calculated as 26.06 g CO2-eq./kWh, which is lower than that of most other power plants.

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