Review of Life Cycle Assessment Studies of Coal-fired Power Plants with Carbon Capture and Storage

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is one of the principal options for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from coal-fired power plants. It involves capturing carbon dioxide from power plants, transporting it and storing it in secure places including former oil and gas fields and marine aquifers. However, the use of coal does not only contribute to the global climate change, it also has other important environmental impacts, for example: acidification, eutrophication and depletion of non-renewable resources. In order to assess whether or to what extent the introduction of CCS to coal-fired power plants will contribute to reducing these and other environmental impacts, life cycle assessment (LCA) which considers a full supply chain from resource extraction to ultimate waste management should be conducted. This paper is part of the background research for the development of a full LCA study of coal-fired power plants with carbon capture and storage. Through a literature review of a wide range of international studies, particular attention is given to understanding the scopes of former LCA studies and their environmental assessments. The results of the review show that, although previous LCA studies have been informative to some extent, no complete LCA has been performed yet on coal combustion power plants with CCS, with important gaps identified in terms of the consideration of parts of the supply chain, alternative technologies and potentially important impact categories. In addition to presenting the key findings from this review, this paper presents the future research strategy being applied to contribute to filling these gaps.