LCA Guidelines for Geothermal Installations

LCA Guidelines for Geothermal Installations

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a structured, comprehensive method of quantifying material and energy flows and their associated environmental impacts caused throughout the life cycle of a good and/or service. The Joint Research Centre and the ISO 14040-14044 standards provide a framework for LCA assessments. However, this framework is general and not tailored to energy pathways and more specifically to geothermal systems. It leaves the user with a large range of choices resulting in a large variability in the LCA results that can affect their understanding by decision makers.

The GEOENVI project developed LCA Guidelines for Geothermal Installations, to offer methodological indications and assistance on how to perform LCAs of geothermal systems. These guidelines provide a common and accepted basis to evaluate the life cycle environmental impacts of geothermal energy systems to compare results for different geothermal settings and energy conversion technologies.

Read the LCA guidelines for geothermal installations


  • To offer guidance for consistency, balance and quality Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
  • To enhance the credibility of the findings from LCAs on geothermal systems.
  • The guidelines cover the most sensitive aspects of each step of a LCA applied to geothermal systems.


  • LCA practitioner and geothermal experts.
  • Challenge to produce in a concise manner guidelines ready to use for any type of geothermal installations fulfilling LCA ISO standards (14040 and 14044).


  • To provide guidance on how to establish the life cycle inventories (LCI) of geothermal systems.
  • To provide guidance on selection of life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) and impact category indicators.
  • To provide guidance on how and what to document regarding the LCA of geothermal energy (electricity, heat or combined systems).


  • LCA results applying these guidelines could contribute to a sustainability assessment of geothermal projects and does not pretend to be exhaustive and exclusive in examining all potential environmental issues.
  • LCA could be accompanied by other environmental assessment criteria, which can consider site-dependent matters or whose evaluation involves social or qualitative acceptance.



Implementation of LCA guidelines to six case studies: Environmental assessment of GEOENVI case studies following LCA guidelines

Recommendations from the combination of the national workshop’s feedback and the experience gathered during the application of the LCA guidelines: Harmonized Life Cycle Assessment Guidelines for geothermal installations

Life Cycle Analysis of a Geothermal Power Plant: Comparison of the Environmental Performance with Other Renewable Energy Systems (scientific paper)

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EGEC, the European Geothermal Energy Council, is a non-profit international organisation founded in 1998 to promote the European geothermal industry and enable its development both in Europe and worldwide, by shaping policy, improving business condition, and driving more research and development.