Accounting for uncertainty in the assessment of material requirements and related climate change impacts of the energy transition

Abstract : The recent French “Energy transition act” has set stringent targets to increase the share of renewables in the French electricity mix. In this context, this study aims at quantifying the requirements for steel, aluminium, copper and concrete that would result from the French electricity transition by 2050. The consequences of these requirements in terms of climate change impacts are estimated. Given the significant uncertainties regarding material intensities of electricity generation systems, the study adopts a possibilistic approach to uncertainty representation and propagation. Three steps are distinguished in the calculations. The first step aims at setting the material intensity in terms of direct requirements for steel, aluminium, copper and concrete with respect to several electricity generation systems (in tonnes of materials / MW installed). In the second step, the cradle-to-gate climate change impacts of steel, copper, aluminium and concrete productions are calculated considering a consequential modelling approach. Finally, in the third step, the potential future capacities installed from 2012 to 2050 are drawn from the so-called « Decarbonization through electricity » scenario of energy transition in France by 2050, as defined by the French ANCRE. The results of material requirements and corresponding climate change impacts, as a consequence of the French electricity transition from 2012 to 2050, are expressed as a family of cumulative probability distributions for the proposals: i) “requirement for materials is lower than a certain value” and ii) “climate change impact induced by the production of these materials is lower than a certain value”. This study additionnally computes a single indicator (so-called “confidence index”), as a weighted average of upper and lower bounds of the resulting family of probability distributions. In particular, considering this confidence index as the sole indicator of likelihood, there is a 20% risk that the production of steel, aluminium, copper and concrete, as a response to the French electricity transition from 2012 to 2050, induce more than 444 million tonnes of CO2-eq. These results are intended to inform decision-makers in the most transparent way, for them to eventually decide whether the calculated risks (that material use and corresponding climate change impacts be larger than given values) are acceptable or not.
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Communication dans un congrès
SETAC Europe 27th Annual Meeting, May 2017, Brussels, Belgium. 2017
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Antoine Beylot, Dominique Guyonnet, Stéphanie Muller, Jacques Villeneuve. Accounting for uncertainty in the assessment of material requirements and related climate change impacts of the energy transition. SETAC Europe 27th Annual Meeting, May 2017, Brussels, Belgium. 2017. 〈hal-01512943〉

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