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Helmholtz-Initiative Energy System 2050 – Research Topic Life-Cycle-Oriented Sustainability Assessment of the Case Study Storage and Grid

Helmholtz-Initiative Energy System 2050 – Research Topic Life-Cycle-Oriented Sustainability Assessment of the Case Study Storage and Grid
Project team:

Weil, Marcel (Project leader); Manuel Baumann; Jens Buchgeister


Helmholtz Association

Start date:


End date:


Project partners:


Research area:

Innovation processes and impacts of technology

Project description

Example Life Cycle Costing (LCC) for Energy storage systems (Source: ITAS)

Description of the overall initiative

"Energy System 2050" is a joint initiative of the research field energy of the Helmholtz Association. Running until 2019, it is aiming at improving the concrete understanding of energy systems and at developing technological solutions for use by politics and industry. The initiative explores the integration of technological key elements into the energy system and the respective links. It also elaborates solutions to integrate the partially fluctuating renewable energies successfully into German and European energy systems. Its five selected research topics (RT) address fundamental challenges of the Energiewende:

  1. Storage and Grids
  2. Bioenergy
  3. Hydrogen-based Energy and Resource Pathways
  4. Life-Cycle-Oriented Sustainability Analysis at System Level
  5. Toolbox and Data Models

Description of research topic 4: Life-cycle-oriented sustainability analysis at system level

To successfully continue and complete the Energiewende, it is important that technical and scientific, ecological, economic, and social aspects of the transformation are analyzed comprehensively and at an early stage and incorporated in the process. In research topic 4, a joint method for the sustainability assessment of technologies is developed. This method consists of the elements Life Cycle Costing (LCC) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and an assessment according to social indicators. The method is used to assess three case studies in three research topics (RT 4.2, 4.3, 4.4) exemplarily. The findings and results of the case studies provide the basis for a sustainability assessment at the system level (RT 4.1).

Detailed information on the research topics 4.1 to 4.4 can be found at the following links:

RT 4.1: Development of Methods for Sustainability Assessment at System Level – DLR
RT 4.2: Storage and Grids – KIT-ITAS
RT 4.3: Bioenergy – KIT-ITAS
RT 4.4: Pathway Analysis Hydrogen – FZJ-IEK

Description of research topic 4.2: Case study "Storage and Grids"

The case study "Storage and Grids" analyzes relevant and potentially sustainable energy storage systems (with different net interaction) based on the life cycle regarding their ecological (LCA), economic (LCC), social, and technological aspects. For this purpose, new material flow and cost models are established and an energy storage data base is used as basis for LCA and LCC. A life-cycle inventory is created along the whole value chain for the ecological assessment using the openLCA software in combination with the data base ecoinvent. Statements regarding the sustainability of energy storage options can be realized by integrating social indicators (like the acceptance of energy storage systems).

At the technical level, the integration of various electrochemical energy storage systems into different grid applications in the energy system are analyzed and compared. The focus is on Li-Ion battery systems (e.g. LiFePO4, …), but also NaNiCl or vanadium redox flow batteries are considered. Depending on the application context, other flexibility options, like e.g. pumped-storage power plants or gas power plants, are used as comparison technology.



Dr.-Ing. Marcel Weil
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-26718