Epistemic and Methodological Challenges of Dynamic Environmental Assessment: A Case-Study with Energy Production from Solar Cells
Key Engineering Materials
Trans Tech Publications, Switzerland
During the last decades, life cycle assessment (LCA) has been one of the most common approaches for environmental impact assessment. This methodology has become more and more complex in its representation of the real environmental impacts of products. However, it does not take into account temporal and cumulative aspects, and therefore appear not so suitable to observe potential rebound effect of new technologies. In this paper, we explore the limits of static LCA and understand how some dynamic LCA can be interpreted, by comparing the results of two environmental impacts assessments of energy production from solar cells. The global warming potential (GWP) of different technologies was accounted from the last 50 years. We show with this example how any temporal evolution of technology matters for environmental assessment (e.g. the global warming potential). Turning then to the future, we offer scenarios to see the evolution of greenhouse effect in long term regarding different mixes of technologies. This example opens new horizons for future research in the field of temporal LCA and its applications.