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Environmental Payback of Renovation Strategies in a Northern Climate—the Impact of Nuclear Power and Fossil Fuels in the Electricity Supply

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School of Technology and Business Studies, Dalarna University, 791 88 Falun, Sweden
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Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, University of Gävle, 801 76 Gävle, Sweden
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Department of Applied Physics and Electronics, Umeå University, 901 87 Umeå, Sweden
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Energies 2020, 13(1), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13010080
Received: 27 November 2019 / Revised: 16 December 2019 / Accepted: 20 December 2019 / Published: 23 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Energy Assessment on Buildings)
The aim of this study is to assess how the use of fossil and nuclear power in different renovation scenarios affects the environmental impacts of a multi-family dwelling in Sweden, and how changes in the electricity production with different energy carriers affect the environmental impact. In line with the Paris Agreement, the European Union has set an agenda to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by means of energy efficiency in buildings. It is estimated that by the year 2050, 80% of Europe’s population will be living in buildings that already exist. This means it is important for the European Union to renovate buildings to improve energy efficiency. In this study, eight renovation scenarios, using six different Northern European electricity mixes, were analyzed using the standard of the European Committee for Standardization for life cycle assessment of buildings. This study covers all life cycle steps from cradle to grave. The renovation scenarios include combinations of photovoltaics, geothermal heat pumps, heat recovery ventilation, and improvement of the building envelope. The results show that while in some electricity mixes a reduction in the global warming potential can be achieved, it can be at the expense of an increase in radioactive waste production, and, in mixes with a high share of fossil fuels, the global warming potential of the scenarios increases with time, compared with that of the original building. It also shows that in most electricity mixes, scenarios that reduce the active heat demand of the building end up in reducing both the global warming potential and radioactive waste, making them less sensitive to changes in the energy system. View Full-Text
Keywords: life cycle assessment; electricity production; greenhouse gasses; building renovation; radioactive waste; district heating life cycle assessment; electricity production; greenhouse gasses; building renovation; radioactive waste; district heating
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Ramírez-Villegas, R.; Eriksson, O.; Olofsson, T. Environmental Payback of Renovation Strategies in a Northern Climate—the Impact of Nuclear Power and Fossil Fuels in the Electricity Supply. Energies 2020, 13, 80.

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