Life-cycle assessment of electric power systems

Eric R Masanet, Yuan Chang, Anand R. Gopal, Peter Larsen, William R. Morrow, Roger Sathre, Arman Shehabi, Pei Zhai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

70 Scopus citations


The application of life-cycle assessment (LCA) to electric power (EP) technologies is a vibrant research pursuit that is likely to continue as the world seeks ways to meet growing electricity demand with reduced environmental and human health impacts. Although LCA is an evolving methodology with a number of barriers and challenges to its effective use, LCA studies to date have improved our understanding of the life-cycle energy, greenhouse gas emissions, air pollutant emissions, and water-use implications of EP technologies. With continued progress, LCA offers promise for assessing and comparing EP technologies in an analytically thorough and environmentally holistic manner for more robust deployment decisions. This article summarizes (a) current challenges in applying LCA to EP technologies, (b) LCA results to date on various impacts of EP technologies, and (c) opportunities for improving LCAs of EP technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-136
Number of pages30
JournalAnnual Review of Environment and Resources
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013


  • electricity
  • energy policy
  • environmental analysis
  • life-cycle impact
  • life-cycle inventory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)

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  • Cite this

    Masanet, E. R., Chang, Y., Gopal, A. R., Larsen, P., Morrow, W. R., Sathre, R., Shehabi, A., & Zhai, P. (2013). Life-cycle assessment of electric power systems. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 38, 107-136.