Life cycle sustainability assessment under the framework of constructive sustainability assessments (CSAs): Case studies and reflection

Project description

Schematische Darstellung: Allgemeiner Ansatz der Fallstudien
General approach of the case-studies

The main objective of this dissertation is to contribute to the definition of best practices and know-how for future prospective life cycle assessments within the the framework of constructive technology assessment (CTA). To this end, a set of lessons learned from one to three case studies on emerging energy storage systems for the energy transition will be provided. The case studies will form the basis for a detailed discussion of the implementation of prospective environmental assessments and at the same time provide the framework for socio-economic assessment of the selected technologies. The focus is on the following general research question:

“What are the specific opportunities and challenges for prospective sustainability assessments aimed at supporting the development of emerging energy storage technologies with robust and meaningful results, considering high market and technical uncertainty?”

The case studies focus on promising innovative systems based on improved battery concepts with new materials or cell components for which a significant amount of primary data can be collected. New synthesis routes for known materials will also be considered. The thesis will be written as a cumulative dissertation that comprises at least three publications in selected journals.

Primary data for the environmental and cost assessment, the core of the CSA, will be collected directly on site by the LCA practitioners or in cooperation with the developers, if possible. Potential data gaps on precursor synthesis and upscaling will be filled with the help of existing literature on the subject. In addition, the developers will provide insight into the expected performance of each system based on recent measurements/observations and known limitations. Once the data collection is complete, a baseline model of the system can be created to serve as a starting point for evaluating potential development paths. This evaluation involves defining relevant performance and production parameters that may deviate from the expected values or be time- and location-dependent (e.g., energy density, process efficiency, electricity mix, etc.). Considering uncertainty through sensitivity and scenario analyses of production paths, changes in supply chains, product performance, etc. is of central importance in the assessment. A subsequent multi-criteria analysis will help position the studied system in relation to benchmark technologies. The general approach to conducting the case studies is presented in the figure below. It should be noted that each case study is unique and has specific limitations, so the general approach can be adapted for each case study.


Sebastian Pinto Bautista, M.Sc.
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-24792