Solar and wind power development have lowest climate impact

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on email
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.”

Read Next

June 1, 2021
Almost two thirds of people working in the solar industry expect to see double-digit sales growth this year, according to initial findings from a Global Solar Council survey.
May 18, 2021
Developers will need to install the equivalent of "the world’s largest solar park roughly every day" by 2030 to support global net-zero emissions targets, according to a new report.
April 8, 2021
Green hydrogen may become cheaper than natural gas by 2050, falling by 85% over the next 30 years, but declining costs in the solar sector will be crucial for the nascent technology's growth.
March 31, 2021
Renewables investor Cubico Sustainable Investments has completed its acquisition of a European 272MW solar power platform called Grupo T-Solar from I Squared Capital.
March 30, 2021
Local authorities in New South Wales, Australia, have given French independent power producer Neoen the green light to develop a large scale solar-plus-storage production facility in the region despite receiving 50 complaints from members of the public.
March 23, 2021
Despite green hydrogen’s potential for decarbonising numerous hard to abate sectors, challenges around system integration, government support and project scale must be addressed with urgency.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
July 6, 2021
Solar Media Events
August 24, 2021
Solar Media Events, Upcoming Webinars
October 6, 2021