The Azimuth Project
Carbon footprint (Rev #3)



This page should link to more specific pages…

Carbon emission per unit energy

We need information on the CO2 emission per joule of energy for many forms of energy.

For example, A Path To Sustainable Energy lists 70g/kWh for nuclear power, which seems high. As explained on our page about that paper, 4g/kWh comes from Jacobson’s estimate of what a small nuclear war would create! But the first 66g/kWh comes from a paper by Sovacool.

On the Azimuth Forum, David Pollard writes:

To be fair to Sovacool, his paper does provide some explanation as to why the estimates on which the 66 g/kWh headline figure is based vary between 2.82-22 and 10-200. The main differences are in ‘frontend’ costs: mining, milling, conversion, enrichment, fuel fabrication, and transportation which range from 0.58 to 118. Construction costs differ between reactor types and assumed lifetimes, ranging from 0.27 to 35. Overall the estimates of total emission go from 2 to 200.

The name Roberto Dones seems to be associated with careful assessment. Here’s one of his papers for the European Commission which will take a while to digest: Externalities of Energy containing detail of various different environmental costs for energy, heating and cars.

Research from the Paul Scherrer Institute, Life Cycle Assessment looks useful.

This also includes a Critical note on the estimation by Storm van Leeuwen J.W. and Smith P. … which explains why some of the estimates of CO2 lifecycle emissions attributed to nuclear energy may be anomalously high.

We need to track down some of this information and present it here!

Carbon footprint of coal plants

In the 5th wedge of their Stabilization wedges paper, Pacala and Socolow suppose that in 2054 we have coal power plants working at 90% of capacity with an efficiency of 50%. They say that 700 gigawatts worth of coal plants like this emit 1 gigaton of carbon per year.

Carbon footprint of transportation

For US data see:

This says US transportation produced 27% of all US greenhouse gases in 2003, and 1.87 gigatons of CO2 equivalent. This was up from 1.51 gigatons in 1990, an increase of 24 percent. Greenhouse gases from all other sectors increased by a total of 9.5 percent over the same timeframe.

category: carbon