Small-scale distributed electric power generation

Hydro-Québec mandated CIRAIG’s International Life Cycle Chair to analyze and compare different small-scale distributed electricity generation options, using LCA methodology. Five systems were compared: three types of small turbines and two types of photovoltaic solar panels. The electricity generated by these systems was also compared to the electricity supplied by Hydro-Québec’s network.


  • Kilowatthours supplied by Hydro-Québec’s network outperformed those generated by each of the five distributed electricity generation systems studied, based on indicators for Human health, Climate change, Resources, Aquatic acidification and Aquatic eutrophication. However, results for the Quality of ecosystems indicator were inconclusive.
  • In terms of environmental impact of the five distributed electricity generation systems, the 30 kW wind turbine outperformed the others for indicators for Climate change, Resources, and Aquatic eutrophication. The photovoltaic panels ranked first in the indicator of Human health. The indicators Quality of ecosystems and Aquatic acidification did not demonstrate a clear advantage for either the 30 kW wind turbine or the photovoltaic panels.

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