Solar and wind power development have lowest climate impact

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Reddit
Email
he study was conducted by combining simulations based on integrated energy-economy-climate models. Image: Smartest Energy.

A comprehensive new study conducted by an international team of scientists and published in the journal Nature Energy sheds light on the various low-carbon technologies and how they differ when it comes to indirect greenhouse gas emissions in their life cycle.

Despite what some critics have noted, the study revealed that both PV and wind energy are much more favorable when it comes to low life-cycle emissions. The study also notes that ramping up both solar and wind energy would generate only modest indirect greenhouse gas emissions – which would not not delay the transformation towards a climate-friendly power system.

The study’s lead author Michaja Pehl noted: “Both fossil and non-fossil power technologies still come with a certain amount of greenhouse gas emissions within their life cycle – on the one hand because it needs energy to construct and operate them, on the other hand because of methane emissions, e.g. from coal and gas production.

“However, we found there are substantial differences across technologies regarding their greenhouse gas balance. Electricity production from biomass, coal, gas and hydropower for instance induces much higher indirect greenhouse gas emissions than nuclear electricity, or wind and solar-based power supply.”

The study was conducted by combining simulations based on integrated energy-economy-climate models that evaluate cost-optimal long-term strategies to meet climate targets with life-cycle assessment approaches.

Upon further analysis, the study found that fossil power plants equipped with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) will be responsible for for life-cycle emissions of around 100 grams of CO2-equivalents per kWh of electricity produced. That is 10 times more than the around 10 grams of CO2-equivalents for wind and solar power.

Edgar Hertwich, an industrial ecologist from Yale University who co-authored the study, added: “When it comes to life cycle greenhouse gas emissions, wind and solar energy provide a much better greenhouse gas balance than fossil-based low carbon technologies, because they do not require additional energy for the production and transport of fuels, and the technologies themselves can be produced to a large extend with decarbonized electricity.”

15 September 2022
Bifacial PV modules will be the dominant solar PV technology globally within one or two years; in the utility-scale sector, their market share is already above 70%. This webinar will provide a clear view on the successful implementation of bifacial technology, maximizing system performance and minimising LCoE.
4 October 2022
Solar & Storage Finance USA, the only event that connects developers to capital and capital to solar and storage projects, will be back in November 2022.

Read Next

August 11, 2022
German project developer Energiequelle has entered the Polish renewables market with an eye on 30 projects with more than 1GW of capacity.
August 3, 2022
Spain has started the process to celebrate a fourth round of renewables auction in November with 1.8GW of solar capacity to accelerate its electrification.
August 2, 2022
Swiss PV module manufacturer Meyer Burger has slashed its production plans for 2022 and 2023, citing a “challenging supply chain environment” which has caused delays to its planned production capacity build out.
August 1, 2022
US utility CenterPoint Energy has sought approval from the Indiana Utility Regulation Commission (IURC) to acquire a 130MW solar PV project in Pike County, Indiana.
July 28, 2022
Enel Green Power has started construction of a solar PV park of 486.7MWdc in the northern department of Atlántico in Colombia.
July 28, 2022
Iberdrola has recorded a profit of €2.07 billion in H1 2022 with strong performances in its international business offsetting adverse results in Spain.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
September 7, 2022
15:30 AEST (UTC +10)
Solar Media Events
September 14, 2022
London
Solar Media Events
October 4, 2022
New York, USA
Solar Media Events
October 11, 2022
Virtual event