Carbon footprint of various sources of electricity. Lowest: run-of-the-river hydro

A 2006 UK study by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology compares the life-cycle carbon footprints of a number of energy sources. The study can provide a good starting point for research, in connection with the Philippine debate whether or not to rehabilitate the Bataan nuclear power plant (BNPP), as proposed by Congressman Mark Cojuangco of Pangasinan.

Here’s a summary of the UK study carbon footprint findings, in terms of grams of CO2 equivalent per kWh of electricity generated:

  1. Coal: >1,000
  2. Coal with gassifier technology: <800
  3. Oil: 650
  4. Gas: 500
  5. Biomass: 93
  6. Photovoltaic: 58
  7. Photovoltaic in sunny countries of southern Europe: 35
  8. Wave energy: 25-50
  9. High-density biomass with gassification: 25
  10. Hydro with dams: 10-30
  11. Wind: 5
  12. Nuclear: 5
  13. Hydro, run-of-the-river (no dams): <5

The study also projects the impact of technology trends on future carbon footprints:

  1. Coal footprint may be halved
  2. Carbon capture and storage (CSS) may reduce coal footprint by 90%
  3. Biomass with CSS has potential for up to -420 “negative” carbon emissions
  4. Using very low grade uranium can raise nuclear footprint to 7
  5. Other technologies may reduce their carbon footprint by using low-carbon energy during the production phase.

The study may be downloaded here or from its original site.

3 Comments

  1. Posted December 15, 2009 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this very intresting article on the carbon footprint, I think this shows how messed up the world is.

  2. Posted November 13, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    thankyou very much!!

  3. Gus
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 1:15 am | Permalink

    This is completely incorrect – the carbon footprint of nuclear energy is much larger when you take into account the mining of uranium, construction of nuclea rpower plants, decommisioning of nuclear power plants and deep geological storage of waste.

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