LCA expertise met and discussed electric vehicles and gained new insights from ongoing research within the center
On Thursday September 26 it was time for the Swedish Life Cycle Centers network conference – Let´s meet and Talk LCA! where 45 life cycle professionals from the network met and shared their experiences. On the agenda was a seminar on electric vehicles and updates on ongoing research within the Swedish Life Cycle Center. Sara Palander, Director, together with Lars Mårtensson, Chair of the board, welcome the participants and took this opportunity to welcome Scania, as the newest partner of the center. The day continued with a first part on “How environmentally friendly are electric vehicles? With a Life Cycle perspective we can get the answers”, built on the seminar arranged in Almedalen in July.
Lisbeth Dahllöf, IVL, gave us a deeper background to the subject with her presentation – “LCA the bigger picture and vehicles” and how to get the best knowledge of the whole picture and how to mitigate environmental impact with the help of LCA. The panel then gave us a brief review from Almedalen which led the participants into the workshop sessions. During the workshop, the discussions between participants from academia, industry and the government agencies were mainly on the important aspects concerning electric vehicles and how LCA as a tool can lead to better understanding and decisions. Some conclusions presented from these group discussions were that: Life cycle assessment is used for identifying hotspots and tell us where in the life cycle we have the biggest impact on the environment and also the biggest potential to make a difference. Based on that we can take more informed decisions. One important part of LCA as a tool, is the ability it gives us to get to learn more about products, new products and new technological innovations. But, LCA is not the only tool to give us a complete answer, sometimes other supplementary sustainability factors are required.
– “Everyone wants this YES or NO answer. We do not want to give them that. But we might need to adapt more when communicating results from LCA so that policy maker actually can act on it.” / Voice from group discussion
There was a clear common picture of what was highlighted in the working groups as important factors to focus on for success, such as – battery recycling, traceability and the limitation of access of critical raw materials as well as degree of circularity. The working groups also lifted the importance of communication in the way the recipient needs information, so that LCA can lead to actual legitimizing of decisions. One group also expressed that – We need more Life-Cycle-Action instead of Life-Cycle-Assessment.
The afternoon followed by presentations on ongoing research projects within the center. Presenting was Tomas Ekvall, IVL, Project Manager of Modeling of Recycling; Tomas Rydberg, Project Manager of Natural Capital and Value Creation and Raul Carlsson, Project Manager of SCOPES – Simplify the Complexity of Environmental declarations. The center was lifted as a main arena for access to core competence within the Life Cycle field as well a bridge to reach out to companies and stakeholders as a few of the benefits of being a center project.
Conclusions from the panel summarizing the seminar in Almedalen 2019:
– The seminar was in many ways a success, where we reached out to a wide audience that showed their interest for electric vehicles and LCA as a tool. / Lars Mårtensson, Volvo Group
– The seminar highlighted some important aspects such as the importance of making demands on upstream and downstream suppliers. It gave us an answer that it’s not just black and white, and that LCA bring us clarity of complexity and finding the so-called week spots to work on. / Lena Landström, Vattenfall
– Some claimed that we didn´t answer the main question – “How environmental friendly are electric vehicles?” but in many ways we did; We do already see benefits on electric vehicles and LCA gives us the bigger picture. LCA helps us to find those aspect we need to work on for a sustainable future. / Mia Romare, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institutes
– We missed to underline that all type of production and materials have an environmental burden. If the society still wants the same benefits of transportation in the future as we do now we have to take this into consideration. / Anders Nordelöf, Chalmers University of Technology
– A really good seminar. The question still remains, how we in the best way possible describe the complexity of the reality that LCA shows us, to the everyday consumers. / Cecilia Wendin, Stena metal R&D
The Technical secretariat would like to thank Anna Widerberg (Volvo Cars), Lena Landström (Vattenfall) and Elin Eriksson (IVL) for the good cooperation with the planning and implementation of the seminar on electric vehicles and LCA. Also, a great thanks to the panel who were representing in Almedalen and gave us a brief review of highlights and conclusions from this seminar. We would also send out our appreciation to all of those that participated at the conference and that in many ways contributes to the development of competence building within the center.
This Network Conference was arranged by Swedish Life Cycle Center through the project Swedish platform for the life cycle perspective, funded by the Swedish Energy Agency and the Swedish Life Cycle Center partners.
Read more about our ongoing projects and working groups here.
Text: Jenny Lagergren
Photo: Jenny Lagergren