Proposed standardisation of life-cycle assessment of stationary energy storage systems

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The life-cycle assessment (LCA) of various stationary energy storage systems (SESS) is not yet well studied. There is an overall lack of coherency as different LCA studies show different system scopes, data, model structures and assumptions that are used. This can lead to discrepancies in the interpretation of the results when comparing them, and emphasise the need for a coherent methodology and guidelines when it comes to assessing the environmental impact of SESS. With Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) being the strong market leader for electrochemical energy storage and seeing their price dramatically dropping, they are very attractive to be used in grid-scale applications in SESS. The impact of LIBs in mobile applications (electric vehicles – EV) has been well documented and studied, but the impacts of LIB SESS are not yet well studied, especially when accounting the impacts of LIB recycling and end-of-life (EOL) reuse of EV batteries. We look at existing studies (Ryan et al. and reviews (Pellow et al. 2020) to assess the status quo and propose a standard outline for LCA of SESS, that aims to unify the system scope for LCA of SESS. Our proposition for a future standardised LCA methodology takes into account the needs for an inclusive and consistent functional unit selection, representative SESS inventory use and a realistic modelling of different SESS services in a way that allows direct comparison between service-related impacts, as well as allow to model service stacking and different EOL pathways of handling spent materials.

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