Modeling net land occupation of hydropower reservoirs in Norway for use in life cycle assessment
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionEnvironmental Science and Technology. 2018, 52 (4), 2375-2384. 10.1021/acs.est.7b05125
Increasing hydropower electricity production constitutes a unique opportunity to mitigate climate change impacts. However, hydropower electricity production also impacts aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity through freshwater habitat alteration, water quality degradation, and land use and land use change (LULUC). Today, no operational model exists that covers any of these cause-effect pathways within life cycle assessment (LCA). This paper contributes to the assessment of LULUC impacts of hydropower electricity production in Norway in LCA. We quantified the inundated land area associated with 107 hydropower reservoirs with remote sensing data and related it to yearly electricity production. Therewith, we calculated an average net land occupation of 0.027 m2·yr/kWh of Norwegian storage hydropower plants for the life cycle inventory. Further, we calculated an adjusted average land occupation of 0.007 m2·yr/kWh, accounting for an underestimation of water area in the performed maximum likelihood classification. The calculated land occupation values are the basis to support the development of methods for assessing the land occupation impacts of hydropower on biodiversity in LCA at a damage level.