External Costs as Indicator for the Environmental Performance of Power Systems

  • Lukas LazarEmail author
  • Ingela Tietze
Part of the Sustainable Production, Life Cycle Engineering and Management book series (SPLCEM)


Power system planning progressively demands integrated assessment methodologies to meet the requirements of environmental sustainability goals. An approach to include environmental impacts into power system decision procedures is the use of external costs. To investigate the applicability of external costs for the environmental assessment of power systems, we integrate external costs into the method of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) on the case of power generation technologies. The correlation between the LCA results considering external costs on the one hand and on the other hand standard midpoint impact assessment is investigated by regression analysis. We found that eutrophication (marine and terrestrial), acidification, photochemical ozone creation, respiratory effects and climate change show correlation (R2 = 0.97–0.66). In contrast, the categories concerning land and resource use are not correlating. The correlation mainly depends on the elementary flows which are accounted for. External costs lack in including the variety of elementary flows which are considered in the midpoint assessment. An application of external costs as sole impact indicator of power systems is not recommendable at the current state of development and further research activity for the use in LCA is proposed.


External costs Life Cycle Assessment Impact assessment Power systems Sustainable energy 

Supplementary material

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Industrial Ecology (INEC)Pforzheim UniversityPforzheimGermany

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