John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

A framework for energy use indicators and their reporting in life cycle assessment

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Energy use is a common impact category in life cycle assessment (LCA). Many different energy use indicators are used in LCA studies, accounting for energy use in different ways. Often, however, the choice of the energy use indicator applied is poorly described and motivated. To contribute to a more purposeful selection of energy use indicators and to ensure consistent and transparent reporting of energy use in LCA, a general framework for energy use indicator construction and reporting in LCA studies will be presented in this paper. The framework differentiates between (1) renewable and non‐renewable energies, (2) primary and secondary energies, and (3) energy intended for energy purposes versus energy intended for material purposes. This framework is described both graphically and mathematically. Furthermore, the framework is illustrated by applying it to a number of energy use indicators that are frequently used in LCA studies: cumulative energy demand (CED), non‐renewable cumulative energy demand (NRCED), fossil energy use (FEU), primary fossil energy use (PFEU), and secondary energy use (SEU). To illustrate how the application of different energy use indicators may lead to different results, cradle‐to‐gate energy use of the bio‐nanomaterial cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) is assessed using five different indicators and showing a factor of three differences between the highest and lowest results. The relevance of different energy use indicators to different actors and contexts will be discussed, and further developments of the framework are then suggested. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

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