Impact assessment of Norwegian hydropower on freshwater fish species - an LCA approach
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Accounting for the total environmental impacts associated with energy technologies are becoming increasingly important due to large scale development of renewable resources. In order to assess the trade-offs between large scale development of various technologies, there needs to exist a transparent and efficient quantitative method for such analysis. The goal of this thesis has been to develop an impact assessment of Norwegian hydropower, by constructing a characterization factor that models the relationship between water use for energy production and impacts on freshwater fish species. The thesis presents the importance of hydropower as a renewable energy technology, but focus exclusively on quantifying the negative biodiversity impacts from hydroelectricity production, using the life cycle assessment method. Species-discharge-relationships are calculated for Norway, showing a lower species density per unit of discharge for rivers with high development of hydropower compared to rivers with low development of hydropower. Discharge rates from 97 Norwegian rivers, water efficiency scores, and energy production data, are used to assess the impacts of hydropower. Results single out northern and south-eastern regions of Norway as the main contributors to freshwater fish impacts. The yearly impact of hydropower production from the rivers included in this thesis is estimated to be 0.14 species lost per year. The validity of this estimate is discussed. In order to evaluate the compatibility of the characterization factor with life cycle assessment, the life cycle inventory data from two EPDs on hydropower stations are used to calculate species impact scores on a per kWh basis. From this we see that the characterization factor is applicable to LCA and provides a species loss estimate relevant for local freshwater fish species. Further development of a connectivity index directed towards including habitat fragmentation into the impact assessment is done and applied to 35 rivers. The inclusion weigh the impact scores of rivers based on the difficulty level of migration due to barriers, as a function of dam development. The applicability of this index is discussed, and further investigation highlighted. Lastly a basic framework for constructing regionally specific characterization factors for species impacts by hydropower is presented, this framework is based on the importance of the parameters that are identified as the most essential for the analysis. Keywords: Life cycle assessment, LCA, Impact assessment, Hydropower, Norwegian, environment, freshwater fish, species-discharge-relationship.