A comparative review on the environmental impacts of combustion-based electricity generation technologies

Hannah Hyunah Cho, Vladimir Strezov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This review provides an overview of the environmental impacts of combustion-based electricity generation technologies from six different energy sources, hard coal, brown coal, natural gas, diesel, landfill gas, and wood biomass, using the compiled information from life cycle assessment (LCA) studies. Hard coal has the highest global warming and ecotoxicity impacts, while brown coal and diesel both have high impacts in three out of 10 impact categories. Energy recovery from landfills gas exhibits a great potential to reduce the adverse impacts of landfills without the energy recovery although the level of reduction depends on the energy recovery technologies. The reduction potential of wood biomass-based electricity shows the variability affected by the efficiency of electricity generation and transport distance of the biomass. The application of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies to current power generation systems demonstrates great reduction potential, particularly in global warming impact with the extent of reduction varying with the applied CCS technologies. This study points out the necessity for standardization of the LCA method for a better comparison of impact assessment results for different fuel sources. An integrated method of LCA with a geographic information system (GIS) is suggested to understand the spatial variability of the impacts of power stations and to investigate the synergetic impacts that could be induced by the close geographical proximity of power stations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10486–10502
Number of pages17
JournalEnergy and Fuels
Volume34
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sep 2020

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