Understanding electricity in SimaPro

Ever wonder what electricity mixes exist in SimaPro? Or what electricity type you should choose in SimaPro? We hope to demystify electricity in SimaPro in this post.

By Shelly Severinghaus, Senior Consultant at Long Trail Sustainability, USA member of the SimaPro Global Partner Network

The electricity processes in the SimaPro database contain the fuel types to produce the electricity, the transmission network, loss due to going between the electricity types (e.g. from high to medium voltage), and direct emissions. Electricity grid mixes can be found under the Energy > Electricity Country mix category, and electricity production by specific fuel types can be found under the Energy > Electricity by fuel category.


The SimaPro process names contain the geography for the particular process. DATASMART and Ecoinvent 2.2 puts the geography in the extension of the name (/US), while Ecoinvent 3 puts the geography in curly brackets within the name ({CH}). Most commonly used are {GLO} for global, {RER} for average European and {RoW} for rest of world, as well as country abbreviations like {CH} for Switzerland, {DE} for Germany and {US} for the United States. View the full list here.

Types of Electricity

Four options for electricity types exist in SimaPro:

(1) Low voltage is what households and the service industries consume; (2) Medium voltage is for the production industry, so electricity consumed in factories and industrial processes; (3) High voltage is only for very energy intensive or remote activities; and (4) Production mixes contain the electricity fuel types, so what percent of the electricity mix is from coal, nuclear, natural gas, solar, and so forth (only used in Ecoinvent 2.2 and DATASMART. Ecoinvent 3 uses high voltage as production mixes). You can customize electricity mixes by making a copy, renaming, and modifying the production mixes, and pulling them up through the high, medium, and low voltage levels, which you also have to copy, rename and modify, and pulling in your custom process. Unless you know otherwise, you can keep the amounts for all inputs/outputs the same.

Table 1: Electricity Types. Adapted from Inventory of country specific electricity in LCA, 2.-0 LCA consultants, 2011.

DATASMART Electricity

The DATASMART LCI Package (US-EI 2.2 and Ecoinvent unit processes libraries in SimaPro) contains electricity data for all 50 US States, US averages for 2015 and 2011, Taiwan, Honduras and El Salvador.

The production mix includes imports and exports from/to Canada and Mexico, and can be found in the Low/Medium/High/Production + import categories, following the classification used in Ecoinvent 2.2.

Naming convention for DATASMART electricity:

To customize an electricity process in DATASMART, copy, rename and revise the electricity mix process, found under the Production + import category, then the high voltage process, found under High Voltage + import, then the medium voltage process, found under Medium Voltage + import, and finally the low voltage process, found under Low voltage + import.

Figure 1: Editing DATASMART electricity

Ecoinvent 3 Electricity

Ecoinvent 3 contains electricity data for many countries and regions around the world. Ecoinvent 3 replaced Production mixes with high voltage market processes, found under the High Voltage > Market category.

Because Ecoinvent 3 applies the distinction of market and transformation processes, to customize an electricity process in Ecoinvent 3, copy, rename and revise the high voltage market process, found under the High Voltage > Market category, then the transformation from high to medium voltage process, found under Medium Voltage > Transformation, then the medium voltage process, found under Medium Voltage > Market, then the transformation from medium to low voltage process, found under found under Low Voltage > Transformation, and finally the low voltage process, found under Medium Voltage > Market.

Figure 2: Editing ecoinvent 3 electricity

Regional US, Canadian and Chinese Electricity

Ecoinvent 3 contains US, Canadian and Chinese regional electricity mixes, allowing users to more accurately represent the electricity consumption occurring in those areas, as well as utilize in sensitivity analyses for the location of their facilities.

Seven United States eGrid mixes have been added to Ecoinvent 3. In addition, US “market group” processes have been added, which can be used for average US electricity (Electricity, (high/medium/low) voltage {US}| market group). Market groups represent larger geographic areas comprised of the geographically smaller market datasets within that area.

Figure 3: NERC Regions. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_Electric_Reliability_Corporation


Ecoinvent 3 contains electricity for the Canadian 10 provinces and 3 territories, along with a market group which can be used for average Canadian Electricity (Electricity, high/medium/low voltage {CA}| market group).

Figure 4: Canadian Provinces. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provinces_and_territories_of_Canada


Electricity production data for 32 Chinese regions have been added, found under the Energy > Electricity by fuel categories (e.g. Electricity, high voltage {CN-AH}| electricity production, hard coal) and the Energy > Electricity Country mix > High Voltage > Transformation > Production mix category (e.g. Electricity, high voltage {CN-HE}| production mix).

In addition, mixes for the China Southern Power Grid (CSG) and the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) (e.g. Electricity, [high/medium/low] voltage {SGCC}| market for) and for China as a whole (e.g. Electricity, [high/medium/low] voltage {CN}| market group for) are now available.

Figure 5: Chinese Regions. Source: http://www.ecoinvent.org/database/older-versions/ecoinvent-32/new-data-in-ecoinvent-32/new-data-in-ecoinvent-32.html

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