Renewable electricity generation for off grid remote communities; Life Cycle Assessment Study in Alaska, USA

Christopher S. McCallum*, Narendran Kumar, Robin Curry, Katherine McBride, John Doran*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Many remote communities are reliant on fossil fuels to produce electricity and/or heat. The environmental impact from these generation systems in remote regions have significant emissions from the transportation of fuel to the generation site and only exacerbate the effects of climate change on these communities. Power via sustainable methods is a priority to avoid further environmental damage and sustain local communities (aligns with UNSDG 7, 11 and 13).

A life cycle assessment for the deployment of a renewable electricity generation device (ORPC, Rivgen®) in Alaska, USA as a case study comparison against the existing diesel electricity generation method was analysed using ReCiPe methodology . The kg CO2 eq/MWh is shown to decrease from 1345.45 kg CO2 eq/MWh with diesel electricity generation to 17.49 kg CO2 eq/MWh after a 20-year Rivgen® deployment. The impact of operations and maintenance is minimised if local operators service the device instead of OEMs, with an additional saving of between 0.03 and 25.50% across environmental impact categories. Although the marine hydrokinetic device is less environmentally harmful compared to diesel electricity generating sets, optimal deployment of the device is required to overcome some environmental burdens; agricultural land occupation, water depletion and metal depletion.

The results demonstrate that deployment of renewable electricity generation devices to off grid remote locations for electricity generation can have the same or less, environmental impact as urban grid systems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number117325
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Energy
Volume299
Early online date03 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 03 Jul 2021

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