Life Cycle Assessment for Biodiversity
The project “Developing a Life Cycle Impact Assessment framework for biodiversity impacts” funded through the ENERGIX programme of the Research Council of Norway (2015-2019) aims to develop robust methods for assessing adverse environmental impacts on biodiversity from (1) onshore wind power production and (2) hydropower production, within the framework of Life Cycle Impact assessment (LCIA). The project is a joint cooperation between the NTNU – Industrial Ecology and the Norwegian Institute for Nature research (NINA).
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a method that is widely used for assessing the environmental impacts of processes and products throughout their life cycle. However, if assessing environmental impacts from renewable energy production, current LCA methodologies focus in most cases on greenhouse gas emissions, particulate matter emissions and energy accounting. While it is undisputed that renewable energy technologies perform favourably in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, this is not necessarily the case for impacts on biodiversity. Methods for accounting such impacts in LCA are up to now missing. It is the aim of our project to develop LCA methodologies for assessing (direct and indirect) impacts on biodiversity from (1) onshore wind power production, and (2) hydropower. Impacts that will potentially be covered include collision and habitat disturbance for wind power generation, as well as flooding, loss of connectivity, and changes in magnitude and timing of flows for hydropower. The development of such methodologies is planned to take place both at a local (Norway, plant-specific) and global level. Spatially explicit species distribution, such as geographical range areas from IUCN can be applied for different taxonomic groups (such as birds and bats for wind, etc.) on a global level in combination with species-area relationships, while even more detailed local data from the databases of NINA (http://www.nina.no/Kartogdata/Metadatabase.aspx) can be applied on a local scale. In order to test the developed methods, it is planned to apply them to Norwegian, site-specific case studies. On an international scale the developed approaches shall complement existing LCA methodologies, such as ReCiPe or LC-Impact.