SCOPE 3 - Emissions in the distribution grid


Project duration: 01.10.2022 to 31.08.2023

Client: E.ON SE und Westnetz GmbH

Project partners (consortium partners and associated partners):

  • Chair of Technical Thermodynamics at RWTH Aachen University (LTT)

Against the background of anthropogenic climate change and in order to achieve the set climate protection targets, it will be essential in the future to know the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) caused by the operation of a company or a product. According to the Green House Gas (GHG) Corporate Standard, greenhouse gas emissions are divided into three different areas of consideration, so-called scopes. The scope concept originates from project management and refers to all processes and resources required to implement a business.

Scope 1 emissions include the direct release of climate-damaging gases within a company. Scope 2 emissions are indirect GHGs from purchased energy generated outside the company's own system boundaries but consumed within the company. These represent one of the largest sources of total global GHG. Scope 3 consideration includes all indirect emissions within a company's value chain. These are defined by the GHG Protocol as the result of activities from facilities that are not owned or controlled by the company, but the company directly influences these activities within its own value chain. Furthermore, within Scope 3, a distinction is made between upstream and downstream GHGs that arise in connection with products or services purchased or sold or disposed. In particular, emissions from the production or recycling of products or product components are relevant.

A consideration of GHG in connection with the complete technical cycle of a product is increasingly becoming the focus of public attention, which means that an analysis can only be developed in cooperation with manufacturers and service providers. In this context, the Scope 3 emissions for the distribution network of Westnetz GmbH in Germany should be quantified in order to know the total life cycle emissions of the distribution network in addition to the Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions that are already determined. The Life Cycle Assessment or LCA method is used to quantify the GHG. The overall consideration of the technical cycle of the grid components will be extended by the aspect of sustainability and backed up with key figures from the results of the present project.

Therefore, the overall goal of the project is to quantify the Scope 3 emissions of a given electricity distribution system and to identify the main sources of GHG emissions. To achieve these objectives, the following sub-objectives are defined:

  • Identify the system and its components, define the LCA scope or system boundaries, and the LCA target.
  • Identify the major contributors of GHG emissions within each component.
  • Establish parameters for scaling components at the system level.
  • Identify major contributors of GHG emissions for the entire system.
  • Determination of future emissions and their change under different scenarios.
  • Determination of optimal system design from an environmental perspective.