Life cycle assessment
We apply Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which is based on the international ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 standards. The method provides a description of the environmental impact of generating power with respect to the entire life cycle.
Life cycle analyses cover the production of raw materials, components, chemicals and fuels, transport and waste management through all life cycle phases, such as:
- Fuel production
- Operation and maintenance (including normal faults)
The life cycle assessments are used to analyse the generation and distribution of electricity. The LCAs offer information about the environmental credentials and we can compare the environmental impact of different types of generation.
We have made life cycle assessments of all the different technologies that we use today and of the transmission of electricity to customers. In the LCA brochure we have summarized the impacts from the generation that we apply in the Nordic countries.
Environmental Product Declarations
We apply certified Environmental Product Declarations (EPD®) in accordance with the International EPD® system. The overall purpose of the EPD is to provide relevant, verified and comparable information about the environmental impact from products and services.
An EPD is based on a life cycle assessment and offers information on resource consumption, emissions, waste amounts, land use per kWh generated electricity. We offer this information to our customers, and other interested stakeholders, so that they can assess the environmental impact of their electricity use.
An EPD for electricity also includes impacts on biodiversity and an environmental risk assessment.
The biotope method
The Biotope Method has been developed by Vattenfall to complement the life cycle assessments by also including the ecological aspects of different types of production. The Biotope Method is a way of calculating the effects on biodiversity from the exploitation of land and water in connection to electricity generation.
The Biotope Method accounts for the size of different natural habitats that are used and impacted by our operations. It enables a comparison of the ecological impact and the intended benefit. We use this information to assess and compare different activities that are part of our operations.
The method is based on the identification and classification of natural habitats in Sweden, partly based on The Swedish Species Information Centre's (ArtDatabanken) list of endangered and rare plant and animal species.
Social life cycle assessments
Social life cycle assessments, just like environmental life cycle assessments, are a description of impact throughout the whole value chain of a product, but with the social impacts in focus.
Vattenfall has made social LCAs for the generation of hydro power and wind power so far, and are actively participating in the discussions of developing the methods further together with stakeholders. The S-LCAs that were launched so far can be found as appendices to the EPDs for wind and hydro power respectively.
During 2015, Vattenfall contributed to the development of the Handbook for Product Social Impact Assessments, together with other large multinational companies.