Given the increasing importance of sustainability aspects in national energy plans, this article deals with the prospective analysis of life-cycle indicators of the power generation sector through the case study of Spain. A technology-rich, optimisation-based model for power generation in Spain is developed and provided with endogenous life-cycle indicators (climate change, resources, and human health) to assess their evolution to 2050. Prospective performance indicators are analysed under two energy scenarios: a business-as-usual one, and an alternative scenario favouring the role of carbon dioxide capture in the electricity production mix by 2050. Life-cycle impacts are found to decrease substantially when existing fossil technologies disappear in the mix (especially coal thermal power plants). In the long term, the relatively high presence of natural gas arises as the main source of impact. When the installation of new fossil options without CO2
capture is forbidden by 2030, both renewable technologies and—to a lesser extent—fossil technologies with CO2
capture are found to increase their contribution to electricity production. The endogenous integration of life-cycle indicators into energy models proves to boost the usefulness of both life cycle assessment and energy systems modelling in order to support decision- and policy-making.
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