New Approaches to Prospective Modeling in Industrial Ecology

The state of development of the above methods to conduct prospective studies of the next socio-metabolic transition is not satisfactory. The history of IE exhibits several examples for problems that were overcome by combining different IE methods into new frameworks. Examples include hybrid LCA (Suh et al. 2004) and WIO-MFA (Nakamura et al. 2007).

To come closer to the ultimate goal of studying a wide spectrum of transformation strategies at full scale in a common prospective modeling framework, the established IE methods have been combined in novel ways. As a result, a new family of prospective industrial ecology models is available, and we briefly present two of its members, extended dynamic MFA and THEMIS (Technology-Hybridized EnvironmentalEconomic Model with Integrated Scenarios), and their application so far.

In-use stocks of buildings, infrastructure, or products are central in understanding the transition from the present to different possible future states (Pauliuk and Müller 2014). In-use stocks therefore need to be part of prospective models of socioeconomic metabolism. They are commonly represented as dynamic stock or population balance models, which are time series of stocks that are broken down into age cohorts and specific product types or technologies. The items in each age cohort and technology class can have specific material composition, energy efficiency, and other parameters necessary to determine the requirements and emissions of each item in the stock during its useful life.

Next to in-use stocks, prospective models of SEM contain descriptions of the industries to build up, maintain, and dispose of these stocks and markets that distribute products or product mixes across users. In-use stocks, industries, and markets are arranged into a general system description of socioeconomic metabolism (Fig. 2.1). The universal system structure of the socioeconomic metabolism in

Fig. 2.1 The general structure of the system definitions of the prospective industrial ecology models (Adapted from Pauliuk et al. (2015))

Fig. 2.1 serves as blueprint for the structure of the system definitions of the different prospective models, including CGEs and IAMs (Pauliuk et al. 2015).

3.2.1 Prospective Modeling Using Extended Dynamic MFA

MFA models contain both flows and stocks; they are hence a natural starting point for dynamic and subsequently prospective modeling (Baccini and Bader 1996; Kleijn et al. 2000; D. B. Müller et al. 2004; van der Voet et al. 2002). MFA studies focus on a few materials or product groups at a time, and it was clear early on that prospective modeling with such a limited scope requires exogenous assumptions on the future development of material demand and technological change. In stockdriven modeling, the size of in-use stocks and the lifetime distribution of the different age cohorts are given exogenously, and deconvolution is applied to determine material demand and scrap supply (D. B. Müller 2006). The ability of dynamic stock models to determine future scrap supply from historic material consumption has enabled prospective modeling of mass-balanced recycling systems (Busch et al. 2014; Hatayama et al. 2009, 2010; Igarashi et al. 2007; E. Müller et al. 2014; Murakami et al. 2010; Tanikawa et al. 2002). These models often distinguish between different quality levels of secondary material and contain rules for the substitution of secondary for primary metal that are similar to system expansion in LCA or the by-product technology assumption in I/O (Daigo et al. 2014; Hashimoto et al. 2007; Løvik et al. 2014; Pauliuk et al. 2012, 2013a). Transformation strategies often affect products and the materials contained therein are not directly addressed. To understand the role of materials in different transformation strategies, there hence was a need to include product life cycles into dynamic MFA models, which led to the development of multilayer MFA and the combination of MFA with process-based LCA and life-cycle impact assessment (Milford et al. 2013; Pauliuk et al. 2013b; Sandberg and Brattebø 2012; Pauliuk 2013).

State-of-the-art extended dynamic MFA models comprise these different trends and provide large-scale and long-term dynamic assessments of specific transformation strategies, such as material efficiency (Milford et al. 2013) or passenger vehicle light-weighting (Modaresi et al. 2014). Starting from scenario assumptions on stock size and technology choice, these models apply stock-driven modeling to determine the levels of material production and energy supply that are required to build, operate, and dispose of the product stocks. They contain material-balanced process models of the industrial system and use satellite accounts to track resource consumption, energy supply, and emissions to the environment. A special feature of dynamic extended MFA is the high level of detail of the material cycles in the system, the distinction between open-loop recycling (“downcycling”) and proper recycling, and their capability to quantify how changes in material production and recycling systems impact the overall effect of a certain transformation strategy.

3.2.2 Prospective Modeling Using the THEMIS Model

Large-scale deployment of more efficient and renewable energy technology can substantially reduce the environmental footprint of the global economy. It also leads to large changes in the carbon footprint of energy-intensive products and services such as materials or transportation. For example, the environmental superiority of electrically propelled passenger vehicles compared to gasoline-driven ones depends to a large extent on the carbon intensity of the electricity supply (Hawkins et al. 2013). Prospective LCAs of future technologies need to account for these different framing conditions, for example, by conducting a scenario analysis with different mixes of energy carriers and conversion technologies. Possible future mixes are commonly determined by integrated assessment models, such as the TIMES/ MARKAL model family (Loulou et al. 2005), which stands behind the Energy Technology Perspectives of the International Energy Agency (OECD/IEA 2010). The technology mixes determined by such models can be used to build future scenarios for LCA databases, so that the market mix for certain products like electricity resembles the mix in the IAM scenarios. A thus modified LCA database can be used to conduct prospective attributional LCAs of future consumption.

The THEMIS model (Technology-Hybridized Environmental-Economic Model with Integrated Scenarios) is a recent implementation of this principle (Gibon et al. 2015). It provides insights into the “comparative environmental impacts and resource use of different electricity generation technologies” (Hertwich et al. 2015). THEMIS has four main features: (1) Its core is a nine-region integrated hybrid LC inventory model, which is a combination of foreground information on the specific technologies studied, a background LC inventory database of generic processes like materials production and transport, and MRIO tables to cover processes not contained in the LC background. (2) The historic technology mixes for electricity generation in the nine model regions were replaced with those obtained from the IEA baseline and BLUE MAP scenarios (OECD/IEA 2010) to build prospective future LC inventory models for 2030 and 2050. (3) The gradual transformation from the current to alternative future electricity mixes until 2050 was modeled with an agecohort-based stock model of electricity generation assets, so that for every model year, the economy-wide impacts for building up new, operating, existing, and disposing of retiring electricity generation technology can be determined (Hertwich et al. 2015). (4) Exogenous scenario assumptions on the improvement of energy efficiency, capacity factors, and technology in the production of several major materials including aluminum, copper, nickel, iron and steel, and others were taken from a prospective study on efficiency improvement (ESU & IFEU 2008).

 
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