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Life Cycle Assessment Harmonization

Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Electricity Generation (Fact Sheet)

Cover of the Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Electricity Generation factsheet

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The U.S. Department of Energy enlisted NREL to review and "harmonize" life cycle assessments (LCA) of electricity generation technologies. Hundreds of assessments have been published, often with considerable variability in results. These variations in approach, while usually legitimate, hamper comparison across studies and pooling of published results. Learn more about life cycle assessments of energy technologies.

By harmonizing this data, NREL seeks to reduce the uncertainty around estimates for environmental impacts of renewables and increase the value of the assessments to the policymaking and research communities.

NREL harmonizes this data in order to:

  • Understand the range of published results of LCAs of electricity generation technologies
  • Reduce the variability in published results
  • Clarify the central tendency of published estimates.

Learn more about the life cycle assessment harmonization:

To see the results of harmonization, see a special supplemental issue of the Journal of Industrial Ecology on Meta-Analysis of LCA, as well as, the harmonization of unconventional gas published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

NREL is planning to publish life cycle assessment harmonization results for natural gas. This research will be posted when it is available.

For technology-specific results from NREL's review, analysis, and harmonization of published life cycle assessment estimates, visit:

Download and visualize the numerical results and bibliographies on OpenEI.

For technology-specific results of review and analysis of published LCA estimates, visit:

A review of published estimates has been published in the IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation.

For questions about this project, contact Garvin Heath via our Webmaster page.