Working Conditions in Hydrogen Production: A Social Life Cycle Assessment

10 Pages Posted: 28 May 2020

See all articles by Jasmin Werker

Jasmin Werker

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Christina Wulf

Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH

Petra Zapp

Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH

Date Written: October 2019

Abstract

Social impacts of novel technology can, parallel to environmental and economic consequences, influence its sustainability. By analyzing the case of hydrogen production by advanced alkaline water electrolysis (AEL) from a life cycle perspective, this paper illustrates the social implications of the manufacturing of the electrolyzer and hydrogen production when installed in Germany, Austria, and Spain. This paper complements previous environmental and economic assessments, which selected this set of countries based on their different structures in electricity production. The paper uses a mixed method design to analyze the social impact for the workers along the process chain. Appropriate indicators related to working conditions are selected on the basis of the UN Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The focus on workers is chosen as a first example to test the relatively new Product Social Impact Life Cycle Assessment (PSILCA) database version 2.0. The results of the quantitative assessment are then complemented and compared through an investigation of the underlying raw data and a qualitative literature analysis. Overall, advanced AEL is found to have least social impact along the German process chain, followed by the Spanish and the Austrian. All three process chains show impacts on global upstream processes. In order to reduce social impact and ultimately contribute to Sustainable Development, policymakers and industry need to work together to further improve certain aspects of working conditions in different locations, particularly within global upstream processes.

Keywords: alternative fuels, case study, hydrogen, industrial ecology, life cycle thinking, social life cycle assessment

Suggested Citation

Werker, Jasmin and Wulf, Christina and Zapp, Petra, Working Conditions in Hydrogen Production: A Social Life Cycle Assessment (October 2019). Journal of Industrial Ecology, Vol. 23, Issue 5, pp. 1052-1061, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3608284 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jiec.12840

Jasmin Werker (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Christina Wulf

Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH ( email )

Jülich, 52428
Germany

Petra Zapp

Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH

Jülich, 52428
Germany

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