LCA of emerging techs - from an uncertainty perspective

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


In the LCA of emerging techs there is a mismatch between the timing of the analysis and the timing of the information, as the practitioner needs to make the analysis before the information is available. The practitioner is in the uncomfortable position of having to predict the future. Since this is an impossible task, any result of this analysis is by definition uncertain. So on an ultimate analysis making LCA of emerging technologies means dealing with uncertainty. This can be done in different ways depending on the type of uncertainty and the challenge. In this presentation we build on different previous studies about emerging technologies, present typical challenges encountered, and solutions. In particular the presentation focus on consequential LCA studies of emerging technologies. Typical challenges here include modelling: scalability from pilot to industrial, non-linearity, understanding future marginal markets, delimiting the right scope for the study, studying constrains. The cases considered cover several domains such as food processing and production, carbon capture and storage, cryptocurrencies, and production of biobased materials - and cover both foreground and background modelling issues. We characterize all of these challenges in terms of the uncertainties that they present, either epistemic or aleatory, parameter and model uncertainty, and discuss methods used to address these. We focus then on our research that attempts to move beyond the limits of using only quantitative methods but to combine with qualitative methods such as stakeholder-involvement based methods via workshops and interviews, in order to obtain legitimate and validated sets of assumptions for prospective LCA models.
Period19 Nov 2020
Event title76th Discussion Forum on Life Cycle Assessment: The use of LCA as a development tool for emerging technologies/ how to deal with forecasts in LCA?
Event typeConference
LocationZurich, SwitzerlandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • emerging technologies
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Uncertainty
  • Modelling
  • Quantitative sustainability
  • Green tech
  • Sustainability
  • scenario modelling