Tidal Energy Pros And Cons Now & Into The Future

Tidal Energy Pros And Cons Now & Into The Future

As part of assessing the best energy sources for the future, we are looking at the pros and cons of these different energy sources.

This is our guide on the Pros & Cons Of Tidal Energy.

 

Summary – Tidal Energy Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Is renewable and sustainable (unlike fossil fuels which are finite)
  • Is clean energy that doesn’t emit greenhouse gases during operation
  • There is no re-fuelling that needs to take place once tidal energy technology is set up (unlike coal plants for example)
  • Huge potential worldwide for large scale power generation/supply
  • Tides are a reliable and predictable source of power (more so than wind or the sun)
  • Effective at low water speeds
  • Life span is relatively long – meaning the return on the initial investment increase with each year of operation
  • Doesn’t take up land space

Cons

  • In early development – technology needs more research and development
  • Final impact on the environment in unclear
  • Limited by how close it needs to be constructed to shore
  • Not an energy source right now for individuals 
  • Not a portable energy source 
  • Currently an expensive energy source for suppliers and consumers – is not yet profitable commercially without larger scales and better technology
  • More of a supplementary power source at this stage

Tidal energy is another green, renewable energy source. Like wave energy, it has big potential for future energy generation on large scales in the long term. However, at this stage, there needs to be further development and technological advances before it become competitive commercially, and before it becomes feasible and effective on a large scale. It’s more a prospective energy source at this stage

*Note – the above pros and cons are broad generalisations. Obviously there are different variables to each specific energy project that impact the final pros and cons (like new technology that reduces emissions for coal power plants just as one of many examples). Each energy project and situation (in different countries and cities) should be analysed individually. Having said that, some broad principles and patterns about the pros and cons of different energy sources tend to stay consistent too.

 

What Is Tidal Energy

The most common form of tidal energy generation is the use of Tidal Stream Generators. These use the kinetic energy of the ocean to power turbine – underwater turbines that look and act much like wind turbines.

Tidal barrages or more the more recent technology, dynamic tidal power (DTP) are also used.

– renewableresourcescoalition.org, and energyinformative.org

 

Tidal Energy Pros

  • Is Renewable – relies on ocean undercurrent and tides for power, and not finite fossil fuels (such as coal). High and low tides are a result of the gravitational fields from both the sun and the moon, combined with the earth’s rotation around its axis
  • Is Green Energy – doesn’t produce any waste or greenhouse emissions
  • Big Potential – A report produced in the United Kingdom estimated that tidal energy could meet as much as 20% of the UK’s current electricity demands. The worldwide potential for tidal power is estimated to be 700 TWh a year
  • Reliable and Predictable – Tidal currents are highly predictable. High and low tide develop with well-known cycles, making it easier to construct the system with right dimensions, since we already know what kind of powers the equipment will be exposed to.
  • Effective At Low Water Speeds – Water has 1000 times higher density than air, which makes it possible to generate electricity at low speeds. Calculations show that power can be generated even at 1m/s (equivalent to a little over 3ft/s).
  • Lifespan Seems Long – The tidal barrage power plant La Rance was opened already in 1966 and still generates large amounts of electricity. A long lifespan means the cost these power plants can sell their electricity at is ultimately reduced, making tidal energy more cost-competitive.

– energyinformative.org, and renewableresourcescoalition.org

 

Tidal Energy Cons

  • In Early Development, & Needs More Research & Development – tidal power is early in the development stages and not able to compete with fossil fuels. It needs more development to realise how effective it can be.
  • Environmental Impact Is Uncertain – Because tidal energy generators rely on ocean levels and current, there’s a possibility they may have similar effects to hydro-electric generators which can impact the ecosystem around them.  Technological solutions that will resolve some of these issues are currently being developed.
  • Currently Need To Be Constructed Closer To Shore – which is a limitation. In the future we’d like to exploit weaker tidal currents, at locations further out in the sea. Technological advancements are being worked on in this regard.
  • Currently Expensive For Suppliers & Consumers – It is projected that tidal power will be commercially profitable by 2020 with better technology and larger scales.

 

Sources

1. http://energyinformative.org/tidal-energy-pros-and-cons/

2. http://efficientgreenpower.com/tidal-energy

3. https://www.renewableresourcescoalition.org/alternative-energy-sources/

Pros & Cons Of Wind Energy, Turbines & Farms Now & In The Future

Pros & Cons Of Wind Energy, Turbines & Farms Now & In The Future

As part of assessing the best energy sources for the future, we are looking at the pros and cons of these different energy sources.

This is our guide on the Pros & Cons Of Wind Energy, Turbines & Farms.

 

Summary – Pros & Cons Of Wind Energy, Wind Turbines & Wind Farms

Pros

  • Is renewable and sustainable (unlike fossil fuels)
  • Is clean energy that doesn’t emit greenhouse gases during operation
  • There is no re-fuelling that needs to take place once wind farms are set up (unlike coal plants for example)
  • Wind farms are generally simpler and less costly to maintain once in operation compared to coal plants and nuclear plants
  • Wind energy is getting cheaper for consumers in some countries (as the technology and cost to produce wind farms gets cheaper)
  • Wind electricity prices for consumers can be more stable than fossil fuel electricity prices which can fluctuate
  • Doesn’t take up as much space and land as solar panels
  • Allows energy independence for individuals
  • Allows people to disconnect from the energy grid
  • Power output is OK
  • Good to use on homes
  • Good to use rurally
  • Wind farms can be set up with as many or as few wind turbines as desired, and the projects can be run in stages, unlike coal plants or nuclear plants that have to be built all at once
  • Wind energy is showing rapid growth in some parts of the world (like the MidWest in the US)
  • Large scale wind is usually distributed across a wide geographical area, and modular with several individual panel or panel farms. This creates less chance of damage to equipment or disruption to electricity supply in the case of extreme weather or a natural event in one area, compared to a fossil fuel plant that has one power plant in one spot

Cons

  • Power density and power per unit is not as good as coal or nuclear in a lot of instances
  • More of a supplementary power source for many cities as this stage – not yet suitable for largest scale power production
  • Not yet as cost efficient as solar (there’s more investment in development of solar at the moment)
  • Can be intermittent and an unpredictable energy sources (as it requires consistent wind to produce energy)
  • Not good in places with little wind
  • Not as portable as solar energy
  • Can have heavy upfront cost for larger scale wind farms
  • Time to break even from upfront costs can be 10, 20 or more years
  • Can be noisy if you live near a wind farm
  • Wind farms can sometimes be a hazard for flying wildlife
  • Aesthetics – wind farms tend not to look great
  • Demand for wind energy can be sensitive to fossil fuel prices
  • Demand for wind energy may decrease when tax credits stop in some countries or regions
  • Wind requires more construction materials than nuclear

Wind energy probably sits just behind solar as one of our best options as a long-term energy sources that is clean and renewable. It’s a smaller scale or supplementary energy source at this stage in most cases. With more development in technology, the potential can keep growing. One drawback is that it relies on wind – and not every location is as windy as others.

*Note – the above pros and cons are broad generalisations. Obviously there are different variables to each specific energy project that impact the final pros and cons (like new technology that reduces emissions for coal power plants just as one of many examples). Each energy project and situation (in different countries and cities) should be analysed individually. Having said that, some broad principles and patterns about the pros and cons of different energy sources tend to stay consistent too.

 

What Is Wind Energy/Power?

Wind power is the generation of electricity by using air flow to spin wind turbines, then converting the mechanical energy into electrical.

– renewableresourcescoalition.org

 

Pros Of Wind Energy, Turbines & Farms

  • Is Renewable & Sustainable – wind is actually a form of solar energy. Winds are created by a combination of uneven surfaces of the Earth, the Earth’s rotation on its axis, and imbalanced heating of the sun across our atmosphere. This means that for at least the next 5 billion years, we won’t run out of it.
  • Is Clean Energy – does not produce Greenhouse Gases while in use unlike coal, gas, and oil. Manufacture and installation of wind turbines does, but this is minimal compared to other energy sources. These set up GHGs are expected to be recouped within 9 months of clean operation in most cases. Wind energy produces about the same greenhouse gas emissions as nuclear (dailymaverick.co.za)
  • Fuel Is Free – once a wind turbine is set up, there is no fueling or refueling process that needs to take place unlike a coal power plant for example.
  • Running Costs Of Wind Turbines Are Relatively Low– after manufacture and install, a wind turbine requires little to maintain unlike a coal or nuclear plant.
  • Wind Energy Is Getting Cheaper For Consumers – cost to produce is gradually decreasing as demand increases and technology gets better. Since 1980, wind energy prices have decreased more than 80%. This is due to the vast amounts of research paying dividends as new and improved technology, in addition to demand for wind power consistently increasing. Future trends are expected to be the same.
  • Electricity Price Stability – fossil fuel prices can fluctuate heavily in response to world fossil fuel events and the market. Renewable energy can be much more stable because of stable operating costs. (ucsusa.org)
  • Doesn’t Take Up Heaps Of Space Or Land – whilst wind turbines and farms do take up land, they don’t take up as much land or real estate as solar panels. The space in between wind turbines can be used for other things.
  • Energy Independent – wind energy can be produced most places in the world. It doesn’t have to be connected to a power grid. You also don’t have to rely on utility companies for electricity.
  • Decent Power Output – one large wind turbine, on average, has the capacity to generate enough electricity to power 600 U.S. homes.
  • Good Potential For Homes – In addition to be an independent energy source, wind energy gives individuals access to net metering which basically provides credit to electricity bills for any excess power generated in a given month. You actually get paid for extra energy production
  • Can Be Used Rurally – like solar energy, because wind energy is an independent energy source and doesn’t rely on a power grid, it has good rural use application.
  • Wind Energy Is Showing Rapid Growth In Some Regions – the Midwest that are moving away from heavy reliance on coal and have seen rapid growth in wind energy (insideclimatenews.org)
  • Distribution & Modular Set Up – Wind generators are usually distributed across a wide geographical area, and modular with several individual wind generators or wind farms. This creates less chance of damage to equipment or disruption to electricity supply in the case of extreme weather or a natural event in one area, compared to a fossil fuel plant that has one power plant in one spot. Hurricane Sandy has this impact (power loss and damage) on fossil fuel plants in New York and New Jersey, but not as much on renewable energy projects (ucsusa.org)

– renewableresourcescoalition.org, insideclimatenews.org, ucsusa.org

 

Cons Of Wind Energy, Turbines & Farms

  • Loses To Solar In Some Aspects – loses to solar for cost and aesthetic purposes. Also, companies like Tesla are pouring a lot of time and money into developing solar technology, and countries like Germany (a solar leader) are too.
  • Can Be Intermittent, & Unpredictable – Wind energy can be unpredictable, as wind and wind speeds often rise and fall in general and in different locations. This is unlike solar where at least you know where the sun rises and falls. Although wind can produce energy at night (unlike solar), it isn’t enough to offset it’s unpredictability.
  • Heavy Upfront Costs – Larger-scale wind farms and residential turbines are very costly, and fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas, currently produce electricity at a rather low rate, which makes it hard for wind to compete in the short term.
  • Take Time To Break Even In Terms Of Cost – it takes anywhere from 10 to 20 years before a wind turbine breaks even.
  • Noise Pollution – turbines and farms create noise pollution that other energy sources, such as solar, don’t. But some technology is making noise less of an issue as time goes on.
  • Difficult To Live Near Large Scale Wind Farms – because of the noise pollution.
  • Biological/Environmental Impact – once installed, wind turbines present a safety hazard to flying creatures such as birds that might fly into them. There isn’t this problem with solar.
  • Aesthetics – especially in residential cases, there seems to be more people who prefer the look of solar panels in and around their homes than windmills and wind turbines.
  • Demand for wind energy can be sensitive to fossil fuel prices – wind energy outlook is highly sensitive to natural gas prices, with wind becoming less competitive when gas prices are low [in the US] (insideclimatenews.org)
  • Demand for wind energy might decrease when there are is no tax credit support – some experts support this view, whilst others don’t (insideclimatenews.org)
  • Wind requires more construction material than nuclear – Solar requires 18 times, and wind 11 times, the construction materials of nuclear.

– renewableresourcescoalition.org, insideclimatenews.org, dailymaverick.co.za

 

Sources

1. https://www.renewableresourcescoalition.org/wind-energy-pros-cons/

2. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/28012019/eia-annual-energy-outlook-coal-renewable-wind-utility-analyst-projections-impact

3. https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-energy/renewable-energy/public-benefits-of-renewable-power

4. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2019-08-13-mantashe-is-right-south-africa-must-build-more-nuclear-energy/

Solar Energy Pros & Cons Now & Into The Future

Solar Energy Pros & Cons Now & Into The Future

As part of assessing the best energy sources for the future, we are looking at the pros and cons of these different energy sources.

This is our guide on Solar Energy Pros and Cons.

 

Summary – Pros & Cons Of Solar Energy

Pros

  • Solar is renewable and sustainable (not finite like fossil fuels or potentially uranium)
  • Produces no emissions while in operation
  • Is a portable form of energy
  • Can be used for small applications as well as larger applications
  • Can be used off grid
  • Can give people energy independence
  • Technology is always improving to increase capability
  • Demand is increasing, which is dropping prices to manufacture and also buy in some places
  • Solar electricity prices for consumers can be more stable than fossil fuel electricity prices which can fluctuate
  • Solar requires fairly simple maintenance once up and running compared to nuclear for example (generally cleaning of the panel is all that is required for most smaller units)
  • Setup costs can generally be recovered over the life of solar panels
  • The typical solar panel has a decent lifespan of around 20 to 25 years
  • Solar has the benefit of setting up as many or as little panels as you like – it’s easy to set up in stages or in increments to your liking or needs … compared to a nuclear plant or a coal plant, where you have to set up a whole plant over say 6 to 8 years
  • Large scale solar is usually distributed across a wide geographical area, and modular with several individual panel or panel farms. This creates less chance of damage to equipment or disruption to electricity supply in the case of extreme weather or a natural event in one area, compared to a fossil fuel plant that has one power plant in one spot

Cons

  • Low power output per unit (low power density) compared to nuclear, oil, gas
  • Not suited at the moment to large scale (large city size) power supply due to various reasons
  • Price per kilowatt can be expensive in some countries, and a setup of many panels can be expensive (but prices are dropping with tech advancements and economies of scale)
  • Return on investment can take time
  • Needs lots of space/land the more panels you add, unless you are installing them on buildings
  • Depends on the sun and can be intermittent
  • Not suited to places with little sun
  • Solar panels can require scarce materials to make

Solar is a pretty good option for individuals and households at the moment as long as it makes sense financially for them. But, with current solar technology, solar isn’t as suited to large scale power supply for cities as say coal, natural gas and nuclear. Technological advances will hopefully change that in the future, as well as our ability to integrate solar power better into a city’s power supply. At the moment, solar is more of a supplementary power source for the cities that use it, and isn’t as much of a primary source. As long as costs are competitive, and technology keeps advancing to increase power density/power output per unit, solar probably has one of the best long term futures as a power supply a long with wind power.

*Note – the above pros and cons are broad generalisations. Obviously there are different variables to each specific energy project that impact the final pros and cons (like new technology that reduces emissions for coal power plants just as one of many examples). Each energy project and situation (in different countries and cities) should be analysed individually. Having said that, some broad principles and patterns about the pros and cons of different energy sources tend to stay consistent too.

 

Pros Of Solar Energy

  • Is Renewable & Sustainable – not finite like fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas. Even nuclear may run out in the next 80 years when uranium is in low supplies. Solar energy is expected to be available for the next 5 billion years.
  • Is Clean & Carbon Emission Free While In Operation – produces no carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases while in use, unlike fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas. GHGs are produced in manufacturing solar panels, but these are seen to be negligible when compared to the GHGs emitted by other energy sources.  Solar power produces four times more GHGs than nuclear in total (dailymaverick.co.za)
  • Can Be Used Off The Grid, & Gives Energy Independence – solar power doesn’t require access to a power grid, so it can generate electricity anywhere panels can be installed, even poorer or less developed countries. It can be used by people free of utility companies.
  • Technology Is Improving – better technology means more efficiency. Companies and countries (like Tesla, and Germany who are the world’s solar leaders) are also working on storing excess solar energy in a cheaper way. Quantum physics research and advancements in nanotech also have the potential to greatly increase the power output of solar panels, which could lead to wider-scale use of them across the globe
  • Demand Is Increasing, & Prices Are Dropping In Some Places – companies are working to make it more affordable, and higher demand means prices come down to both produce solar energy equipment, and purchase solar power naturally.
  • Electricity Price Stability – fossil fuel prices can fluctuate heavily in response to world fossil fuel events and the market. Renewable energy can be much more stable because of stable operating costs. (ucsusa.org)
  • Portable, Versatile & Can Be Used For Unique Application – can be used to power street lights, homes, cars, and even small electronic devices, such as your phone. You can get portable solar power panels and chargers. More solar energy uses are coming out as time progresses – making solar very versatile.
  • Low Maintenance – compared to energy like nuclear for example. Residential solar panels for example require cleaning once, maybe twice per year. The typical manufacturer’s warranty lasts anywhere from 20 to 25 years. Even though they might have higher upfront costs, you can see how easily recouped they can be over their lifespan.
  • Good Life Span – the typical solar panel set up lifespan residentially is around 20-25 years.
  • Distribution & Modular Set Up – Solar is usually distributed across a wide geographical area, and modular with several individual panels or panel farms. This creates less chance of damage to equipment or disruption to electricity supply in the case of extreme weather or a natural event in one area, compared to a fossil fuel plant that has one power plant in one spot. Hurricane Sandy has this impact (power loss and damage) on fossil fuel plants in New York and New Jersey, but not as much on renewable energy projects (ucsusa.org)

– renewableresourcescoalition.org, ucsusa.org

 

Cons Of Solar Energy

  • Low Power Output – compared to nuclear, oil, and gas, solar has a much lower power output per unit. Solar is unable right now to provide sufficient energy to power something like a large manufacturing plant with lots of big machinery
  • Can Be Expensive – compared to other alternative energies, the price per kilowatt can be expensive, and upfront costs can be expensive (household panels can be $1000’s of dollars). But, costs are gradually dropping.
  • Return On Investment Can Take Time – residentially, if you purchase a solar panel set up, it can take years to recoup your cost investment compared to using a utility company for use of their grid-supplied energy.
  • Needs A lot Of Space – solar panels that catch solar energy need a lot of space and land to be laid out compared to other forms of energy. The mean power density for solar is about 170 W/m2, much more than other renewable energy sources, but nowhere near the amounts of energy sources such as nuclear. It struggles to compete against alternative energy sources based on its low power density (space to power output ratio). As technology gets better, smaller panels may produce more power per square metre.
  • Depends On The Sun & Can Be Intermittent – relies on exposure to and the intensity of the sun. If the sun is not out like at night time or on overcast days or in colder climates, you’re limited in the energy you can catch. This wouldn’t be as much of an issue if there was a cheaper way to store excess solar energy. Intermittent energy isn’t a problem for nuclear or fossil fuels.
  • Right Now, It’s Not As Good For Huge Scale Energy Provision – solar isn’t as good to scale for large cities and countries right now as other energy sources. The power output is not there, and existing infrastructure isn’t built around it – meaning you lose captured solar energy that could get fed into the grid (like in countries such as China).
  • Solar Panel Cells Require Rarer Materials – Cadmium telluride and copper indium gallium selenide are examples that are not as easily found on earth as coal and fossil fuels.
  • Solar requires more construction material than nuclear – Solar requires 18 times, and wind 11 times, the construction materials of nuclear.

– renewableresourcescoalition.org, bettermeetsreality.com, dailymaverick.co.za

 

Sources

1. https://www.renewableresourcescoalition.org/solar-energy-pros-cons/

2. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/the-challenges-with-chinas-transition-from-coal-to-natural-gas-renewable-energy/

3. https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-energy/renewable-energy/public-benefits-of-renewable-power

4. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2019-08-13-mantashe-is-right-south-africa-must-build-more-nuclear-energy/

Pros & Cons Of Nuclear Energy (Benefits & Disadvantages)

Pros & Cons Of Nuclear Energy

As part of assessing the best energy sources for the future, we are looking at the pros and cons of these different energy sources.

This is our guide on the Pros & Cons Of Nuclear Energy.

 

Summary – Nuclear Energy Pros & Cons

Pros

Cons

  • It’s expensive to setup and build a nuclear plant, especially in Western countries
  • Nuclear waste is very hazardous and radioactive
  • Nuclear waste must be managed and disposed of properly – this can be costly as it can’t go to a regular landfill (long lived and high level radioactive waste can be buried deep underground)
  • Nuclear waste and spent nuclear fuel can take hundreds of years to decompose – where in the meantime it can be a threat to the safety and health of humans, wild life and plant life
  • Uranium and nuclear are not renewable like solar or wind power for example
  • It can be expensive to decommission and handle fuel at the end of a nuclear plant’s lifetime
  • Significant nuclear accidents have happened in the past
  • Nuclear plants are a potential terrorism or security risk
  • Not a portable or small use energy source like solar panels for example – more for large scale energy generation
  • Old nuclear reactors are not as capable of ramping up fast

We probably don’t have any better overall options right now for short to medium term mass energy production than nuclear. Renewables don’t provide the level of mass energy production nuclear does right now with the technology they have and the challenges they pose in transitioning to them, and fossil fuels such as coal are high GHG emission energy sources (natural gas is better than coal and oil though in this regard).

*Note – the above pros and cons are broad generalisations. Obviously there are different variables to each specific energy project that impact the final pros and cons (like new technology that reduces emissions for coal power plants just as one of many examples). Each energy project and situation (in different countries and cities) should be analysed individually. Having said that, some broad principles and patterns about the pros and cons of different energy sources tend to stay consistent too.

 

Pros Of Nuclear Energy

  • Low Greenhouse Gases During Operation – Compared to coal, gas, and other electric-generating plants. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), nuclear energy produces more clean-air energy than any other source. It produces 62 percent of all emission-free electricity in the United States. The large clouds you see leaving the smoke stacks are nothing more than vaporized water. Wind energy produces about the same greenhouse gas emissions as nuclear (dailymaverick.co.za)
  • Incredibly High Fuel To Power Output Ratio – It has the capacity to meet city and industrial needs with just one reactor. A relatively small amount of uranium can be used to fuel a 1000 Megawatts electric plant, providing enough electricity to power a city of about half a million people. Renewable sources, such as solar and wind, provide only enough power to meet residential or office needs. They don’t yet have the capacity of nuclear to handle large-scale power needs, especially in the manufacturing world
  • Produces Inexpensive Electricity When Operational In Some Countries– cheaper than gas, coal, or any other fossil fuel plants. Uranium is also a fairly cheap fuel source
  • Over Lifetime, Nuclear Recoups Costs – the costs to make a nuclear plant can be high, but over the lifetime of a plant, costs are almost always recouped back
  • Decent Lifecycle – average lifecycle of a nuclear power plant is around 40-60 years – around the same as a coal plant (54 years average)
  • Doesn’t Rely On Fossil Fuels – so it’s not affected by the unpredictability of oil and gas costs. We won’t be depleting the Earth’s supply of resources nearly as quickly. Nuclear power requires much less fuel to produce a higher amount of energy.
  • Current Supply Of Uranium – With the current supply of uranium, it is estimated that we have at least another 80 years before supply becomes an issue. There are also other forms of uranium that can be used if needed, extending that timeline even further. This is plenty of time to find alternative sources (such as nuclear fusion, the holy grail of energy), if need be.
  • Positive Economic Impact – nuclear plants bring jobs and prosperity to local communities. According to the NEI, one new nuclear plant creates 400 to 700 permanent jobs, not to mention thousands of others during its construction. Most nuclear sites have at least 2 plants. This is comparable to just 90 jobs for a coal plant, and 50 for a natural gas plant. Each facility generates close to $500 million annually in sales of goods and services. More workers at plants means more people who need lunches and more people with money to spend.
  • Low Level & Short Lived Radioactive Waste Can Be Stored On-Site – this is a relatively straightforward process. Intermediate waste can also be stored on-site. (world-nuclear.org)
  • Nuclear requires less construction materials than solar and wind – Solar requires 18 times, and wind 11 times, the construction materials of nuclear.
  • One Of The Safest Energy Sources Availablewhen considering Deaths per 1000 TWh (tera watt hours) generated (bettermeetsreality.com)
  • New Nuclear Reactors Are More Capable Of Ramping Up Fast – many designs of Generation 4 molten fuel nuclear reactors will be capable of fast ramping (wikipedia.org)

– renewableresourcescoalition.org, world-nuclear.org, dailymaverick.co.za, bettermeetsreality.com and trimediaee.com

 

Cons Of Nuclear Energy

  • Not Renewable – Uranium is in limited (although currently abundant) supply. Typical renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are in infinite supply.
  • Uranium Mining & Activation Process Can Be Expensive – Uranium has to be mined, synthesized, then activated to produce energy, and it’s very expensive to go through this process.
  • Environmental Impact Of Uranium As A Fuel Source – A typical nuclear power plant generates about 20 metric tons of used nuclear fuel per year. The problem is that this spent fuel is highly radioactive and potentially dangerous.
  • Disposal of Radioactive Waste – You can’t take it to a normal landfill. It has to be carefully handled and stored (which costs a lot of money), and it requires a hefty amount of specially designed storage space. High level and long lived waste can sometimes have to be stored deep underground (world-nuclear.org)
  • High Up-Front Construction Costs For Nuclear Plants – Construction of a new plant can take anywhere from 5-10 years to build, costing billions of dollars. In the East—in Korea, in China and the UAE, which is being built by the Koreans—the cost is $3,000-$4,000 per kilowatt, whereas in the West the cost is north of $8,000 per kilowatt [due to design, construction management and supply chain and workforce] (forbes.com). In Australia, nuclear is currently priced out of the energy mix compared to renewables. (reneweconomy.com.au)
  • Back End Costs Aren’t Cheap – high fuel handling and decommissioning costs.
  • Public Safety – Spent nuclear fuel takes hundreds of years to decompose before it reaches adequate levels of safety.
  • Accidents – significant accidents are actually incredibly rare, but have happened throughout history (such as the Three Mile Island meltdown in 1978, and the Chernobyl explosion in 1986). When accidents happen – they are a major problem. Casualties may not be high from nuclear accidents, but the environmental and social issues can have an impact decades later. Whilst wildlife has returned to the Chernobyl area, the area won’t be safe for human habitation for at least 20,000 years.
  • Potential Terrorism & Security Threat – with fossil fuel plants, you don’t have to worry about them being targeted by terrorists and vigilantes. Uranium used to power nuclear plants is of a different grade than weapons-grade uranium; however, it can be synthesized from it. This makes it a threat if it gets in the hands on dangerous people. Security is tight and the probability of an event is low though.
  • Not Portable Or For Small Use Applications – can only be used for powering a large grid or in special applications such as a submarine.
  • Existing & Old Nuclear Reactors Are Not As Capable Of Fast Ramping – Thermally lethargic technologies like coal and solid-fuel nuclear are physically incapable of fast ramping (wikipedia.org)

– renewableresourcescoalition.org, livescience.com, forbes.com, world-nuclear.org reneweconomy.com.au

 

Sources

1. https://www.renewableresourcescoalition.org/nuclear-energy-pros-cons/

2. https://trimediaee.com/blog/environmental/power-plant-past-prime/

3. https://www.livescience.com/39961-chernobyl.html

4. https://www.renewableresourcescoalition.org/solar-energy-pros-cons/

5. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/how-much-uranium-is-left-in-the-world-on-land-in-oceans-when-will-we-run-out/

6. https://reneweconomy.com.au/nuclear-priced-out-of-australias-future-energy-equation-in-new-report-67465/

7. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2018/10/01/3-reasons-nuclear-reactors-are-more-expensive-in-the-west-hint-its-not-regulation/#57bad5155d1a

8. https://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/nuclear-fuel-cycle/nuclear-waste/storage-and-disposal-of-radioactive-waste.aspx

9. https://www.nei.org/fundamentals/nuclear-waste

10. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2019-08-13-mantashe-is-right-south-africa-must-build-more-nuclear-energy/

11. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/which-energy-source-is-the-most-dangerous-harmful-which-is-safest/

12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source#Levelized_cost_of_electricity

Which Fossil Fuel Emits The Most C02 & Greenhouse Gases?

Which Fossil Fuel Emits The Most C02 & Greenhouse Gases?

Some fossil fuels are cleaner than others when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions.

In this guide, we look at which fossil fuels emit the most C02 globally, and in the two biggest emitting countries – China, and the United States.

 

Summary – Fossil Fuel That Emits The Most CO2 & Greenhouse Gases

  • In simplistic terms, coal is the least favorable fossil fuel to burn if you want to minimise emissions
  • For electricity production – coal releases the most CO2 at 2.2 pounds, followed by petroleum releasing 2.0 pounds, and natural gas behind that at 0.9 pounds of CO2 per kilowatt-hour
  • For transport – considering only tailpipe emissions, natural gas also emits 15 to 20 percent less heat-trapping gases than gasoline when burned in today’s typical vehicle
  • Having said that, you have to consider the total life cycle value of greenhouse gases for a fossil fuel, including extraction. For example, natural gas involves the leakage of methane at the drilling and extraction stage.
  • And, there are other factors to take into consideration too with each fossil fuel – whether natural gas has lower life cycle greenhouse gas emissions than coal and oil depends on the assumed leakage rate, the global warming potential of methane over different time frames, the energy conversion efficiency, and other factors.
  • So, there are general assumptions that might be made about each type of fossil fuel, but there are specific situations that can produce different emission results.

 

Most Global C02 Emissions By Fuel Source

Globally, annual per year C02 emissions by fuel source, measured in billions of tonnes per year, in 2013, were:

  • Solid Fuel (Coal) – 15.15 (Bt)
  • Liquid (Oil) – 11.79
  • Gas (Natural Gas) – 6.62
  • Cement Production – 2.03
  • Gas Flaring – 249.36 (Millions of tonnes)

– ourworldindata.org

 

C02 Emissions In China By Fuel Source

China, has had the world’s largest carbon footprint since 2004 and was responsible for 27.6 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions in 2017.

China had 10.2 Gigatonnes of C02 Emissions in 2016 (29.2% of global C02 emissions). The breakdown by fuel source was:

  • Coal – 7.17Gt C02
  • Oil – 1.38Gt C02
  • Gas – 0.395Gt C02
  • Cement – 1.2Gt C02
  • Gas Flaring – 0Gt C02

Roughly 70 percent of China’s CO2 emissions – which is more than those from all European, African, and Latin American countries combined – results from this heavy dependence on coal. An additional 14 percent of its CO2 emissions come from oil.

– chinapower.csis.org

 

C02 Emissions In The United States By Fuel Source

The United states had of 5.31 Gt of C02 Emissions in 2016 (15.3% of global C02 emissions). The breakdown by fuel source was:

  • Coal – 1.38Gt C02
  • Oil – 2.31Gt C02
  • Gas – 1.53Gt C02
  • Cement – 0.0407Gt C02
  • Gas Flaring – 0.0459Gt C02

In the US, oil is the main source of CO2 emissions (43.5 percent), followed by natural gas (28.7 percent).

– chinapower.csis.org

 

C02 Emissions In Japan By Fuel Source

  • Japan leans on coal for a quarter of its generated electricity, it only constitutes 38.2 percent of Japan’s CO2emissions – an almost even split with oil, which accounts for 37.3 percent

– chinapower.csis.org

 

Coal vs Natural Gas vs Oil – Emissions From Combustion, & Total Life Cycle Of Greenhouse Gases

  • Natural gas is a fossil fuel, though the global warming emissions from its combustion are much lower than those from coal or oil
  • Natural gas emits 50 to 60 percent less carbon dioxide (CO2) when combusted in a new, efficient natural gas power plant compared with emissions from a typical new coal plant.
  • Considering only tailpipe emissions, natural gas also emits 15 to 20 percent less heat-trapping gases than gasoline when burned in today’s typical vehicle
  • Having said this, with natural gas, the drilling and extraction of natural gas from wells and its transportation in pipelines results in the leakage of methane, primary component of natural gas that is 34 times stronger than CO2 at trapping heat over a 100-year period and 86 times stronger over 20 years. Preliminary studies and field measurements show that these so-called “fugitive” methane emissions range from 1 to 9 percent of total life cycle emissions
  • Whether natural gas has lower life cycle greenhouse gas emissions than coal and oil depends on the assumed leakage rate, the global warming potential of methane over different time frames, the energy conversion efficiency, and other factors

– ucsusa.org

 

Sources

1. https://chinapower.csis.org/china-greenhouse-gas-emissions/

2. https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-energy/coal-and-other-fossil-fuels/environmental-impacts-of-natural-gas#.W9AW9BMzbR1

3. https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions

4. https://www.bettermeetsreality.com/carbon-footprint-of-common-everyday-things-products-foods/

The Challenges With China’s Transition From Coal, To Natural Gas & Renewable Energy

The Challenges With China's Transition From Coal, To Natural Gas & Renewable Energy

China is going through, and will continue to go through a transition period over the next few decades.

It currently relies on coal for a large % of it’s energy needs, but coal is also responsible for heavy greenhouse gas emissions.

China has shown interest in beginning a switch to natural gas, and renewables, both of which are cleaner/greener energy than coal.

In this guide, we look at how that transition is happening, and the challenges, complexities and difficulties in making that happen.

 

Summary – China’s Challenges In Transitioning Away From Coal As An Energy Source

  • China currently relies heavily on coal for energy, and will continue to do so into the short term future
  • About 70% of China’s CO2 emissions come from coal, and about 14% from oil
  • It’s desirable for countries to switch at least from coal to natural gas because natural gas emits 50 to 60 percent less carbon during the combustion process. Switching to renewable energy is even better (from an emissions standpoint)
  • China leads the world in renewable energy investment, and installed wind and solar power capacity
  • But, China already has a significant investment in coal power plants, and their installed capacity for coal isn’t expected to peak before 2025
  • Along with a power grid that is currently set up for coal power plants (and now renewables for example), the Chinese transition to natural gas and certainly renewables is made difficult by the profits in coal power, subsidies and protection of coal power, lax regulations on coal power, penalties that aren’t harsh enough for businesses using coal power, technology to give renewable energy a performance and cost advantage over coal, infrastructure and investment to properly integrate renewables to the Chinese power grid, the social and economic impact of closing down coal power plants, the impact of renewables on disposable income of citizens, geographic locations of solar farms and other renewable setups, and renewable energy making some environmental issues worse when concentrated in a particular area. There are other challenges which you can read in the article below.
  • Some sources also point out the logistical challenge in switching from gasoline and diesel powered cars to hybrid and electric cars when done at scale. The lithium batteries in particular can require a lot of resources to produce, can be hard to recycle (due to a range of reasons), and require the mining of metals which may face scarcity issues in the future
  • So, overall, there are many challenges in transitioning to cleaner electricity production and cleaner transport not only for China, but the world (but obviously some are specific to China with the way their power mix, governments, energy sector, transport sector, and country is set up)

 

China’s Reliance On Coal, & Subsequent C02 Emissions

In the year 2000, China had:

  • 3.4 Giga tonnes of C02 emissions – which was 13.9% of global C02 emissions
  • 2.4 Gt came from coal, 0.649 from oil, 0.0598 from gas, 0.297 from cement, and 0 from gas flaring

In the year 2016, China had:

  • 10.2 Gigatonnes of C02 Emissions – which was 29.2% of global C02 emissions
  • Coal was responsible for 7.17Gt, Oil 1.38Gt, Gas 0.395Gt, Cement 1.2Gt and 0 from Gas Flaring

Coal has constituted an average of 69.9 percent of China’s energy consumption between 1985 and 2016.

As of 2016, China still consumes more coals that the rest of the world combined.

Roughly 70 percent of China’s CO2 emissions – which is more than those from all European, African, and Latin American countries combined – results from coal consumption. An additional 14 percent of its CO2 emissions come from oil

– chinapower.csis.org

 

China’s reliance on coal for it’s economic development in the recent past is evident here. But, there is a tradeoff – in the significant C02 emissions.

 

China’s Transition From Coal, To Natural Gas, & Renewable Energy

  • Natural gas emits 50 to 60 percent less carbon during the combustion process – and China is increasing it’s use of that
  • As of 2017, China was the world’s third largest consumer of natural gas after the US and Russia. China is also the third largest purchaser of liquified natural gas (LNG) from the US
  • The Chinese government announced in March 2018 that it had achieved its Copenhagen emission reduction targets for 2020, which included reducing carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent and raising the share of non-fossil fuel energy sources to 15 percent
  • In order to boost alternative energy usage, Beijing pledged to install “340 gigawatts (GW) of hydropower capacity, 210 GW of wind and 110 GW of solar by 2020.”
  • China plans a 16.5 percent annual increase in nuclear power capacity between 2015 and 2020
  • China is expected to surpass the 15 percent target set in the Copenhagen Accord
  • It is estimated that China will need to increase its target for non-fossil fuel consumption from its current target of 15 percent to 26 percent by 2020 to meet Paris Agreement targets

– chinapower.csis.org

 

  • At present, China also leads the world in terms of wind and solar power capacity
  • As of 2017, renewables were generating 5.3% of China’s electricity supply

– weforum.org

 

  • China is already the leading investor in renewable energy in the world, planning to invest another $360 billion by 2020

– thediplomat.com

 

  • China says it will be the world’s biggest investor in renewables and has pledged $400 billion by 2030.

– abc.net.au

 

China’s Difficulties, Complexities & Challenges With Transition From Coal To Natural Gas & Renewables

There are several things which will slow the transition away from coal.

Some of these difficulties and challenges are:

 

  • Despite declining in relative terms, China’s coal installed capacity is not expected to peak before 2025
  • Despite China’s investment in renewable energy, China still consumes as much coal as the rest of the world combined
  • In 2016, the bulk of Chinese electricity was produced by thermal power plants, mainly coal, which accounted for 65 percent (or 3,906 terawatt hours) of the country’s total power generation
  • The industry still represented 71 percent of energy consumption in 2016, which translated into a structural hurdle to the advancement of reforms in China’s energy mix. Renewable energies, on the other hand, accounted for 25 percent of total power generation, with hydropower at 20 percent, wind power 4 percent, and solar power 1 percent.
  • Forecasts from the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) and the Energy Development Strategy Action Plan (2014-2020) say renewable energies to compose 34 percent of installed generating capacity in China’s power sector.
  • Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that coal will lose its importance: in absolute terms, installed capacity for coal is supposed to increase almost 17 percent, from 942.6 GW in 2016 to 1,100 GW in 2020.
  • The current power system is still influenced by the last 15 years’ development strategies, which – successfully – aimed for security of electricity supply to power the rapidly expanding economy.
  • There is an over capacity of coal power plants – which are essentially stranded investments
  • Because of the huge investment by the Chinese government in renewables, it’s pushed the prices for them down
  • First difficulty (market forces) – But, the profit margin of coal-fire power increased in the last years, due to low prices of coal and to a relatively stable grid purchasing price – this is a market force which helps coal
  • Second difficulty (market forces) – Energy prices in China are probably lower than they should be due to subsidiation and protectionism. Industries are also heavily reliant on coal with the current infrastructure set up and it’s difficult for them to transition to new sources.
  • Third difficulty (market forces) – due to decentralisation of environmental impact assessments of new power plants, relaxation on regulations to prevent new investments in dirty energy has increased
  • Fourth difficulty (market forces) – it has been cheaper in many cases to pay extra fees due to pollution or breaking environmental regulations than to implement energy-efficient solutions
  • Fifth difficulty (tech breakthroughs) – Technology impacts these renewable sources’ efficiency, operation and maintenance costs, and eventually, market prices. Mainly it is the infrastructure to take on new equipment.  Electricity dispatching and absorption for example is an issue because current infrastructure for power transactions doesn’t take into account the variable nature of large scale power generation from wind and solar. Xinjiang, for instance, lost 38 percent of the energy produced by wind power in 2016. Nationally, 17 percent of all wind-power generation was curtailed in 2016 and has been increasing since 2014. Moreover, China’s energy transmission lines still do not support the transference of electricity without losing a considerable amount of energy, whereas industries rely on coal, rather than electricity, to maintain their daily operation. Finally, more technological improvements are urged for cleaner coal production
  • Sixth (social welfare) – any price reform for new energy sources would reduce disposable income. Further to that, closing down existing coal power plants contributes high unemployment through loss of jobs of those who work there, and deteriorating life quality through short term loss of ability to heat homes in winter. Second, governments lose revenue from industrial taxes from decreased use of coal power plants. A relatively rapid green transition, where there is a lack of infrastructure to support the smooth substitution of energy sources alongside an education gap that does not prepare the workforce with skills required in a green economy – has negative effects.
  • Seventh (environmental resilience) – positive outcomes of a green transition are reduced air pollution, rural lands will suffer less from water contamination, and natural landscapes can endure longer. Therefore, of the four main constraints to energy reform in China, environmental resilience poses weaker barriers to the deployment of renewable energies. However, there are two repercussions worth mentioning: geographical suitability and interrelationships among environmental issues. Renewable energies depend on good geographical positioning, where the potential to generate energy outpaces the costs for installation and operation. In China, this translated into a concentration of power plants in specific areas — wind and solar power, for instance, are more advantageous in grasslands and deserts, respectively — that already suffer from soil degradation, erosion, and water scarcity, such as Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. This leads to the second repercussion with respect to the interrelationships between environmental problems. Even though renewable energies have reversible impacts on the environment, their scale of production and installation in a concentrated area aggravates the above-mentioned problems. Consequently, because renewable sources of energy depend on bigger and bigger areas of already degraded lands to scale its production, there is a physical hazard to China’s green transition.
  • Investment in clean energy is still important, but the transition will be slower and more complex, and will take time

– thediplomat.com

 

  • Some coal fired boiler to gas conversion programs have been put off until 2020 – when additional gas import capacity from Russia will be ready
  • A large-scale transition needs adequate gas distribution capacity
  • Households plus a number of industrial businesses will need to switch from coal to gas for heating and electricity
  • If Beijing doesn’t take care to increase the supply of coal and put a lid on fast-rising prices – there will be more shortages
  • Hebei (where coal use was at 86.6 percent in 2015, versus a national average of 63 percent) has its problems with insufficient gas distribution infrastructure
  • Last year, the local authorities converted more than 2.5 million households to gas and electricity heating from coal
  • Lack of communication between the government and the industry in the transition can also be an issue

– oilprice.com

 

  • Nationally, solar only generates about 2 per cent of China’s electricity and wind power a little more than 3 per cent, but much more is planned
  • China says it will be the world’s biggest investor in renewables and has pledged $400 billion by 2030.
  • the problem is much of the electricity is not getting onto the grid. It is being squeezed out by coal, which provides three-quarters of the nation’s energy needs.
  • Coal is cheap, and China is self-sufficient. And that has created a dependency
  • Coal is firmly entrenched and much of China’s business and political elites are making billions from it
  • Some say the coal culture will be a challenge to change, and top decision-makers down do not regard solar as a viable alternative yet
  • A lot of employment, a lot of incomes, a lot of GDP growth is relying on the coal industry. In the provinces the local officials prefer coal
  • Many of the massive showcase renewable projects in the outer provinces are too far away from the energy-hungry cities and industrial centres of the east, and transmission lines and the grid haven’t been upgraded to utilise the power
  • the situation is improving, but 20 per cent of renewable power that is generated is being lost.
  • In western parts large amounts of energy produced by solar and wind is wasted and not integrated into the grid, that brings a lot of losses for the companies operating the renewables
  • The other issue is cost. Renewable energy is still expensive compared to coal
  • it is only a matter of time before technological breakthroughs bring lower prices perhaps in 5 years from 2018
  • Then it will be a low-cost, clean and stable fuel of the future. In the last decade it’s already dropped from $5.00 to 40 cents a watt.
  • How effective energy reforms are, and how fast the coal culture can change – will both affect the transition

– abc.net.au

 

  • China’s electricity grid runs mainly on coal – this is an issue for electric vehicles
  • When accounting for emissions from electrical consumption, Greenpeace notes that both electric cars and traditional cars in China have similar “CO2 emissions and PM2.5 levels per kilometer driven.”
  • Furthermore, the lithium-ion batteries used to power EVs require enormous amounts of energy to produce, up to twice as much as is needed for manufacturing a standard combustion vehicle.

– chinapower.csis.org

 

Sources

1. https://chinapower.csis.org/china-greenhouse-gas-emissions/

2. https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Chinas-Coal-To-Gas-Transition-Sputters.html

3. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/05/china-is-a-renewable-energy-champion-but-its-time-for-a-new-approach/

4. https://thediplomat.com/2018/04/the-stumbling-blocks-to-chinas-green-transition/

5. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-25/china-pledges-to-drastically-cut-fossil-fuels/9500228

Summary/Snapshot: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Worldwide/Globally (Past, Present & Future)

Summary/Snapshot: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Worldwide/Globally (Past, Present & Future)

At the moment, China and the United States are some of the clear major players when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions.

But, it’s also important to know a summary of greenhouse gas emissions from the past, in the present and forecasts for the future – from a global/worldwide perspective.

This is our Global GHG Emission Summary.

 

Summary – Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions

  • The United States is responsible for the most CO2 emissions cumulatively throughout history
  • China is the current leader in annual CO2 emissions (by almost double the US’s annual output)
  • Read more about the US and their greenhouse gas emissions in this guide
  • Read more about China and their greenhouse gas emissions in this guide 
  • Per capita (per person) CO2 emission rates show different countries taking the lead compared to cumulative and annual totals. As of 2016, Qatar had the highest at 47.83 (tonnes per person per year). Australia came in at 16.5, the US at 16.44 and China at 7.36
  • The leading sources of CO2 by fuel source in 2013 globally were coal, oil, gas, cement production and gas flaring (in that order)
  • Global emissions increased from 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 1900 to over 36 billion tonnes 115 years later in 2015
  • Over the last few years (2014-2016), global annual emissions of CO2 have approximately stabilized
  • Regionally, we see that the emissions across a number of high-income countries in Europe and the Americas have peaked and were falling during the last decade.
  • If countries are able to transition from coal, to natural gas, to nuclear and renewables – we may see significant drops in annual greenhouse gas emissions
  • Carbon dioxide is by far the most emitted greenhouse gas globally (over methane, nitrous oxide etc.)
  • Energy was by far the highest emitter globally of CO2 in 2010 when looking at all sectors
  • Agriculture and Energy were the highest emitters globally of methane in 2008 when looking at all sectors
  • Agriculture was by far the highest emitter of nitrous oxide globally in 2010 when looking at all sectors
  • Energy was by far the highest emitter of total greenhouse gases globally in 2010 when looking at all sectors. In 2014, other figures show electricity and heat production, agriculture (along with forestry and other land use), and industry as the highest emitters

 

*Note that future forecasts for what a country or the world may do and their future emissions are a guide only and in reality are very hard to get accurate due to the number of variables at play. Some variables can also have a much larger impact than others – so one variable can change forecasts a lot. For example, how aggressive a country or countries are in transitioning to the use of renewable energy for energy production (electricity and vehicle fuel) could play a huge role – and this change is dependent on many factors alone

 

Top Countries For Cumulative C02 Emissions

The countries that lead in terms of total sum of C02 emissions since 1751 and up to 2014, measured in millions of tonnes, are:

  • United States – 376,212.65 (Mt)
  • China – 174,874.89 (Mt)
  • Germany – 86,536.42 (Mt)
  • United Kingdom – 75,237.98 (Mt)
  • India – 41,784.24 (Mt)

– Ourworldindata.org

 

Top Countries For Annual C02 Emissions

The countries that lead in terms of total sum of C02 emissions per year in 2016, measured in millions of tonnes, are:

  • China – 10,283.51 (Mt)
  • US – 5,565.49 (Mt)
  • EU-28 – a mix of european countries (Germany features high on the list)
  • India – 2,236.55 (Mt)
  • Russia – 1,669.6 (Mt)
  • Japan – 1266.6 (Mt)

– Ourworldindata.org

 

In 2014:

  • China – 30%
  • Other – 30%
  • United States – 15%
  • EU-28 – 9%
  • India – 7%
  • Russia – 5%
  • Japan – 4%

– epa.gov

 

Top Countries For Per Capita C02 Emissions

The countries with the highest per capita (C02 emissions per person in the population), measured in tonnes per person per year, in 2016, are:

  • Qatar – 47.83 (tonnes per person per year)
  • Trinidad & Tobago – 30.06
  • Kuwait – 25.81
  • United Arab Emirates – 25.79
  • Bahrain – 24.51
  • Brunei – 23.7
  • Saudi Arabia – 19.66
  • New Caledonia – 18.2
  • Australia – 16.5
  • Luxembourg – 16.47
  • United States –  16.44
  • Most nations across sub-Saharan Africa, South America and South Asia have per capita emissions below five tonnes per year (many have less than 1-2 tonnes)

– Ourworldindata.org

 

Most C02 Emissions By Fuel Source

Globally, annual per year C02 emissions by fuel source, measured in billions of tonnes per year, in 2013, are:

  • Solid Fuel (Coal) – 15.15 (Bt)
  • Liquid (Oil) – 11.79
  • Gas (Natural Gas) – 6.62
  • Cement Production – 2.03
  • Gas Flaring – 249.36 (Millions of tonnes)

– Ourworldindata.org

 

Global Annual C02 Emissions Over Time

  • Global emissions increased from 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 1900 to over 36 billion tonnes 115 years later in 2015
  • Over the last few years (2014-2016), global annual emissions of CO2 have approximately stabilized
  • Regionally, we see that the emissions across a number of high-income countries in Europe and the Americas have peaked and were falling during the last decade.

– Ourworldindata.org

 

Global C02 Concentration (PPM) – Total, & Average

  • The total global concentration of C02 in parts per million was 338.8 PPM in 1980, and 402.87 PPM in 2016
  • The average global C02 PPM increased from 286.13 PPM in 1865, to 400.13 PPM in 2016

– Ourworldindata.org

 

Top Greenhouse Gas Emissions Globally By Gas Type

Globally, the gases by type, in thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, are:

  • Carbon Dioxide – 35.46 million, thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2012
  • Methane – 8.01 million, thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2012
  • Nitrous Oxide – 3.15 million, thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2012
  • HFC Gases – 834,435.57 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2010
  • SF Gases – 174,905.39 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2010
  • PFC Gases – 78,622.31 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2010

– Ourworldindata.org

 

In 2014:

  • Carbon Dioxide – 76% (65% from fossil fuels and industrial processes, and 11% from forestry and other land use)
  • Methane – 16%
  • Nitrous Oxide  – 6%
  • F Gases – 2%

– epa.gov

 

Global C02 Emissions By Sector

In 2010, Global carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions, measured in gigagrams of CO₂ per year, by sector, are:

  • Total – 34.42 million
  • Energy – 20.33 million
  • Transport – 5.53 million
  • Residential & Commercial – 3.38 million
  • Agriculture, Land Use & Forestry – 2.62 million
  • Industry – 2.48 million
  • Other Sources – 47,519 thousand
  • Waste – 32,506.6 thousand

– Ourworldindata.org

 

Global Methane Emissions By Sector

In 2008, total global methane (CH₄) emissions by sector, measured in gigagrams of carbon-dioxide equivalents (CO₂e) were:

  • Total – 5.98 million
  • Agriculture – 2.84 million
  • Energy – 2.58 million
  • Land Use – 293,021.69 thousand
  • Residential & Commercial – 258,670.43 thousand
  • Industry – 5,290.31 thousand
  • Other Sources – 3,162.6 thousand

– Ourworldindata.org

 

Global Nitrous Oxide Emissions By Sector

In 2010, total global nitrous oxide (N₂O) emissions by sector, measured in gigagrams of carbon-dioxide equivalents(CO₂e) were:

  • Total – 3.06 million
  • Agriculture – 2.21 million
  • Other Sources – 216,927.81 thousand
  • Energy – 175,856.12 thousand
  • Industry –  137,911.67 thousand
  • Waste – 119,087.49 thousand
  • Residential & Commercial – 91,159.3 thousand
  • Land Use – 83,443.4 thousand
  • Transport – 15,786.61 thousand
  • International Bunkers – 8,879.86 thousand
  • Forestry – 0

– Ourworldindata.org

 

Global Greenhouse Gas (All Gases) Emissions By Sector

In 2010, the total global greenhouse gas emissions by sector globally, measured in gigagrams of carbon-dioxide equivalents(CO₂e), were:

  • Total – 50.58 million
  • Energy – 23.24 million
  • Land Use Sources – 5.54 million
  • Transport – 5.54 million
  • Agriculture – 5.08 million
  • Commercial & Residential – 3.74 million
  • Industry – 3.47 million
  • Waste – 1.45 million
  • Forestry – 1.18 million
  • International Bunkers – 1.08 million
  • Other Sources – 267,609.41 thousand

– Ourworldindata.org

 

In 2014:

  • Electricity and Heat Production – 25%
  • Agriculture, Forestry & Other Land Use – 24%
  • Industry – 21%
  • Transportation – 14%
  • Other Energy – 10%
  • Buildings – 6%

– epa.gov

 

Emissions From Agriculture & Land Use

  • The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that the agriculture, forestry, and land use (AFOLU) sector was responsible for about one-quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.

– Ourworldindata.org

 

The Future Of Greenhouse Gas Emissions & Global Warming Worldwide – Forecasts, & Scenarios

Precise forecasts for greenhouse gas emissions, and particularly carbon dioxide emissions, are hard to make due to factors such as economic activity, price of fossil fuels, what happens in the electricity and transport industries, government policy developments, whether there are improvements in energy efficiency + more.

So, only estimated forecasts can be made.

 

Forecasts of global warming in the future depending on which policies or behaviors we adopt, might be:

  • If we have no climate policies implemented: this would result in an estimated 4.1-4.8°C warming by 2100 (relative to pre-industrial temperatures)
  • If we go forward with current climate policies: this would result in a projected warming of 3.1-3.7°C by 2100
  • If all countries achieve their current national targets/pledges set within the Paris climate agreement: it’s estimated average warming by 2100 will be 2.6-3.2°C. This will go well beyond the overall target of the Paris Agreement to keep warming “well below 2°C”.
  • To achieve limiting average warming to 2°C…: there are a range of emissions pathways that would be compatible with limiting average warming to 2°C by 2100. This would require a significant increase in ambition of the current pledges within the Paris Agreement.
  • To achieve limiting average warming to 1.5°C consistent: there are a range of emissions pathways that would be compatible with limiting average warming to 1.5°C by 2100. However, all would require a very urgent and rapid reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions.

– Ourworldindata.org

 

  • Taken together, all model projections indicate that Earth will continue to warm considerably more over the next few decades to centuries. I
  • If there were no technological or policy changes to reduce emission trends from their current trajectory, then further warming of 2.6 to 4.8 °C (4.7 to 8.6 °F) in addition to that which has already occurred would be expected during the 21st century.
  • Projecting what those ranges will mean for the climate experienced at any particular location is a challenging scientific problem, but estimates are continuing to improve as regional and local-scale models advance.

– royalsociety.org

 

  • Stringent mitigation policies might be able to limit global warming (in 2100) to around 2 °C or below, relative to pre-industrial levels. Without mitigation, increased energy demand and extensive use of fossil fuels might lead to global warming of around 4 °C.
  • From the IPCC 4th Report – the best estimate for global mean temperature is an increase of 1.8 °C (3.2 °F) by the end of the 21st century. This projection is relative to global temperatures at the end of the 20th century. The “likely” range (greater than 66% probability, based on expert judgement) for the SRES B1 marker scenario is 1.1–2.9 °C (2.0–5.2 °F). For the highest emissions SRES marker scenario (A1FI), the best estimate for global mean temperature increase is 4.0 °C (7.2 °F), with a “likely” range of 2.4–6.4 °C (4.3–11.5 °F).
  • The range in temperature projections partly reflects (1) the choice of emissions scenario, and (2) the “climate sensitivity”.
  • Different scenarios make different assumptions of future social and economic development (e.g., economic growth, population level, energy policies), which in turn affects projections of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • The projected magnitude of warming by 2100 is closely related to the level of cumulative emissions over the 21st century (i.e. total emissions between 2000–2100). The higher the cumulative emissions over this time period, the greater the level of warming is projected to occur.
  • Over the next several millennia, projections suggest that global warming could be irreversible. Even if emissions were drastically reduced, global temperatures would remain close to their highest level for at least 1,000 years

– wikipedia.org

 

Sources

1. https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions

2. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data

3. https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/climate-change-evidence-causes/basics-of-climate-change/

4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_global_warming

Summary/Snapshot: Greenhouse Gas Emissions In China (Past, Present & Future)

Summary/Snapshot: Greenhouse Gas Emissions In China (Past, Present & Future)

At the moment, China and the United States are some of the clear major players when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions.

We’ve put together a brief summary/snapshot of how each country sits in the global picture, and on a national scale.

This is our China GHG Emission Summary.

 

Summary – Greenhouse Gas Emissions In China

  • The US leads the world in cumulative CO2 emissions throughout history, with China in second
  • The US sits behind China (who leads the world) for annual CO2 emissions. On latest figures, China is around double the US’s annual emissions
  • Because of the size of the population, China’s per capita CO2 emissions sit at around 7.36 tonnes per person, compared to other countries such as the US at 16.44, and Australia at 16.5
  • Coal is the leading emission source in China by a very large margin (coal makes up around 70% of total emissions)
  • The industrial sector is China’s primary coal consumer. Manufacturing, agriculture, mining, and construction collectively made up 67.9 percent of China’s energy use and 54.2 percent of China’s coal use in 2015
  • Power production activities were responsible for 41.8 percent of coal consumption.
  • Construction-related activities are among the main sources of carbon dioxide emissions – particularly the production of cement and steel
  • Over 72 percent of the electrical power generated in China in 2015 came from coal-powered plants
  • Methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and fluorinated gases collectively account for nearly 20 percent of the country’s total emissions
  • Figures show that since the year 2000, China has seen a huge increase in overall greenhouse gas emissions annually, and also coal use
  • China is already the leading investor in renewable energy in the world
  • But, China’s coal installed capacity is not expected to peak before 2025
  • The transition for China from coal to natural gas to renewables still has many hurdles and challenges (despite their installed capacity for renewable energy)
  • In the short term, China still relies heavily on coal power plants
  • In the long term, the effectiveness of China’s reforms (plus many other factors) will determine how well they are able to transition over to renewable and cleaner energy, and this will also determine whether their greenhouse gas emissions begin to decrease (along with how and when)

 

*Note that future forecasts for what a country may do and their future emissions are a guide only and in reality are very hard to get accurate due to the number of variables at play. Some variables can also have a much larger impact than others – so one variable can change forecasts a lot.

 

Cumulative C02 Emissions

The countries that lead in terms of total sum of C02 emissions since 1751 and up to 2014, measured in millions of tonnes, are:

  • United States – 376,212.65 (Mt)
  • China – 174,874.89 (Mt)
  • Germany – 86,536.42 (Mt)
  • United Kingdom – 75,237.98 (Mt)
  • India – 41,784.24 (Mt)

– Ourworldindata.org

 

Annual C02 Emissions

The countries that lead in terms of total sum of C02 emissions per year in 2016, measured in millions of tonnes, are:

  • China – 10,283.51 (Mt)
  • US – 5,565.49 (Mt)
  • EU-28 – a mix of european countries (Germany features high on the list)
  • India – 2,236.55 (Mt)
  • Russia – 1,669.6 (Mt)
  • Japan – 1266.6 (Mt)

– Ourworldindata.org

 

In 2014, the global contribution to C02 emissions was:

  • China – 30%
  • Other – 30%
  • United States – 15%
  • EU-28 – 9%
  • India – 7%
  • Russia – 5%
  • Japan – 4%

– epa.gov

 

Per Capita C02 Emissions

The countries with the highest per capita C02 emissions (C02 emissions per person in the population), measured in tonnes per person per year, in 2016, are:

  • Qatar – 47.83 (tonnes per person per year)
  • Trinidad & Tobago – 30.06
  • Kuwait – 25.81
  • United Arab Emirates – 25.79
  • Bahrain – 24.51
  • Brunei – 23.7
  • Saudi Arabia – 19.66
  • New Caledonia – 18.2
  • Australia – 16.5
  • Luxembourg – 16.47
  • United States –  16.44
  • …Other Countries Between the US and China
  • China – 7.36 

– Ourworldindata.org

 

C02 Emissions By Fuel Source

China had 10.2 Gigatonnes of C02 Emissions in 2016. The breakdown by fuel source was:

  • Coal – 7.17Gt C02
  • Oil – 1.38Gt C02
  • Gas – 0.395Gt C02
  • Cement – 1.2Gt C02
  • Gas Flaring – 0Gt C02

Coal has constituted an average of 69.9 percent of China’s energy consumption between 1985 and 2016.

As of 2016, China still consumes more coals that the rest of the world combined.

Roughly 70 percent of China’s CO2 emissions – which is more than those from all European, African, and Latin American countries combined – results from coal consumption. An additional 14 percent of its CO2 emissions come from oil

– chinapower.csis.org

 

C02 Emissions By Sector/Industry

  • The industrial sector is China’s primary coal consumer. Manufacturing, agriculture, mining, and construction collectively made up 67.9 percent of China’s energy use and 54.2 percent of China’s coal use in 2015
  • Power production activities were responsible for 41.8 percent of coal consumption.
  • Construction-related activities are among the main sources of carbon dioxide emissions – particularly the production of cement and steel
  • Between 2011 and 2013, more cement was consumed in China than what was used across the entire US over the course of the 20th century
  • Cement production releases 1.25 tons of CO2 per ton of cement created, and cement alone accounted for 11 percent of China’s carbon dioxide emissions in 2016
  • China manufactures half of the world’s steel
  • Each ton of steel produces two tons of carbon dioxide.  Some estimates peg steel processing as the source of more than 10 percent of China’s CO2 emissions
  • Most of these materials are consumed within China, but in 2017, around 25 percent of the cement and 9 percent of the steel produced in China was exported
  • Motor vehicles represent another major source of emissions in China

– chinapower.csis.org

 

Household C02 Emissions

  • Over 72 percent of the electrical power generated in China in 2015 came from coal-powered plants, making coal a primary contributor to household CO2emissions
  • In 2015, urban household CO2 emissions in China predominantly resulted from natural gas (33.2 percent) and liquefied petroleum gas (26.1 percent)
  • In contrast, coal contributes over 65 percent of China’s rural household emissions

– chinapower.csis.org

 

Other Greenhouse Gas Emissions

  • Methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and fluorinated gases collectively account for nearly 20 percent of the country’s total emissions
  • Methane is capable of trapping 25 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. One pound of nitrous oxide has 300 times the warming effect of one pound of carbon dioxide.
  • China was responsible for 18.5 percent of global methane emissions (1.7 billion tons) and 18.5 percent of N2O emissions (537 million tons) in 2016. On both fronts, China’s emissions surpassed those of India, France, Germany and Russia combined.
  • CH4 is mainly produced by transporting and distributing energy sources, raising livestock, and managing wastewater and landfills. In 2016, 42.9 percent of China’s CH4 emissions came from its energy sector, such as coal mining and the transportation of gases. An additional 38.2 percent resulted from agricultural activities. In the US, energy-related industries contributed to 43.7 percent of the country’s methane emissions in 2016, and agriculture contributed 34.9 percent.
  • China’s agriculture-related emissions are largely a byproduct of rice cultivation, which made up 55 percent of its agricultural methane emissions in 2016
  • Compared to the US, as the world’s largest producer of beef, most of the agricultural methane released in the US comes from livestock instead.
  • Overall, China’s non C02 greenhouse gas breakdown is Agriculture 40.8%, Energy 31.2%, Waste 13.2%, Industrial Processes 12.7%, & Indirect & Other 2%
  • The agricultural and energy sectors are also the primary sources of N2O emissions. Nitrous oxide is mainly a consequence of agricultural soil management, such as fertilizer, as well as other industrial activities. The agricultural industry is the leading emitter of N2O in China, making up 73.7 percent of its emissions.

– chinapower.csis.org

 

Current Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trend In China

In the year 2000, China had:

  • 3.4 Giga tonnes of C02 emissions – which was 13.9% of global C02 emissions
  • 2.4 Gt came from coal, 0.649 from oil, 0.0598 from gas, 0.297 from cement, and 0 from gas flaring

In the year 2016, China had:

  • 10.2 Gigatonnes of C02 Emissions – which was 29.2% of global C02 emissions
  • Coal was responsible for 7.17Gt, Oil 1.38Gt, Gas 0.395Gt, Cement 1.2Gt and 0 from Gas Flaring

In the year 2017, China:

  • was responsible for 27.6 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions

China’s reliance on coal for it’s economic development in the recent past is evident here.

– chinapower.csis.org

 

Future Forecast For Greenhouse Gas Emissions In China

Precise forecasts for greenhouse gas emissions, and particularly carbon dioxide emissions, are hard to make due to factors such as economic activity, price of fossil fuels, what happens in the electricity and transport industries, government policy developments, whether there are improvements in energy efficiency + more.

So, only estimated forecasts can be made.

 

There’s really three main things to consider with China’s future forecast for greenhouse gases:

1) China is making efforts to reduce emissions from existing C02 producing activities

2) China is trying to make a transition from coal, to natural gas, and also to renewable/green energy – a huge investment has been made recently by China in this transition

3) There are difficulties, complexities and challenges in making this transition

 

In more detail…

 

1) China Making Efforts To Reduce Emissions

  • China has introduced plans for steel production to meet ultra low emissions standards by 2020
  • They are upgrading their power plants to produce more energy with less coal
  • This will put it past the US in that regard
  • It has introduced carbon capture and storage (CCS)
  • In 2017, a nationwide emissions trading scheme (ETS) that incentivizes companies to cut emissions by putting a “price” on CO2. Since its launch, approximately 38 million tons of CO2 have been traded in regional carbon markets.
  • In 2017, to address rural household C02 emissions from coal, electric or gas heaters were subsidised for installation in 3 million homes throughout villages and cities. The use of coal-fired stoves was also banned
  • The Chinese government has proposed fuel standards for new cars, motorcycles and mopeds
  • As of 2017, there were 1.23 million Electric Vehicles in use in China, more than in Europe and the US, at 820,000 and 760,000 respectively
  • The Chinese government aims to have 5 million electric cars on the roads by 2020.

– chinapower.csis.org

 

2) China’s Transition From Coal To Natural Gas, & Renewables

  • Natural gas emits 50 to 60 percent less carbon during the combustion process – and China is increasing it’s use of that
  • As of 2017, China was the world’s third largest consumer of natural gas after the US and Russia. China is also the third largest purchaser of liquified natural gas (LNG) from the US
  • The Chinese government announced in March 2018 that it had achieved its Copenhagen emission reduction targets for 2020, which included reducing carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent and raising the share of non-fossil fuel energy sources to 15 percent
  • In order to boost alternative energy usage, Beijing pledged to install “340 gigawatts (GW) of hydropower capacity, 210 GW of wind and 110 GW of solar by 2020.”
  • China plans a 16.5 percent annual increase in nuclear power capacity between 2015 and 2020
  • China is expected to surpass the 15 percent target set in the Copenhagen Accord
  • It is estimated that China will need to increase its target for non-fossil fuel consumption from its current target of 15 percent to 26 percent by 2020 to meet Paris Agreement targets

– chinapower.csis.org

 

  • At present, China also leads the world in terms of wind and solar power capacity
  • As of 2017, renewables were generating 5.3% of China’s electricity supply

– weforum.org

 

  • China is already the leading investor in renewable energy in the world, planning to invest another $360 billion by 2020

– thediplomat.com

 

  • China says it will be the world’s biggest investor in renewables and has pledged $400 billion by 2030.

– abc.net.au

 

3) Difficulties, Complexities and Challenges In Making Transition

  • China’s electricity grid runs mainly on coal – this is an issue for electric vehicles
  • When accounting for emissions from electrical consumption, Greenpeace notes that both electric cars and traditional cars in China have similar “CO2 emissions and PM2.5 levels per kilometer driven.”
  • Furthermore, the lithium-ion batteries used to power EVs require enormous amounts of energy to produce, up to twice as much as is needed for manufacturing a standard combustion vehicle.

– chinapower.csis.org

 

  • Despite declining in relative terms, China’s coal installed capacity is not expected to peak before 2025
  • Despite China’s investment in renewable energy, China still consumes as much coal as the rest of the world combined
  • In 2016, the bulk of Chinese electricity was produced by thermal power plants, mainly coal, which accounted for 65 percent (or 3,906 terawatt hours) of the country’s total power generation
  • The industry still represented 71 percent of energy consumption in 2016, which translated into a structural hurdle to the advancement of reforms in China’s energy mix. Renewable energies, on the other hand, accounted for 25 percent of total power generation, with hydropower at 20 percent, wind power 4 percent, and solar power 1 percent.
  • Forecasts from the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) and the Energy Development Strategy Action Plan (2014-2020) say renewable energies to compose 34 percent of installed generating capacity in China’s power sector.
  • Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that coal will lose its importance: in absolute terms, installed capacity for coal is supposed to increase almost 17 percent, from 942.6 GW in 2016 to 1,100 GW in 2020.
  • The current power system is still influenced by the last 15 years’ development strategies, which – successfully – aimed for security of electricity supply to power the rapidly expanding economy.
  • There is an over capacity of coal power plants – which are essentially stranded investments
  • Because of the huge investment by the Chinese government in renewables, it’s pushed the prices for them down
  • First difficulty (market forces) – But, the profit margin of coal-fire power increased in the last years, due to low prices of coal and to a relatively stable grid purchasing price – this is a market force which helps coal
  • Second difficulty (market forces) – Energy prices in China are probably lower than they should be due to subsidiation and protectionism. Industries are also heavily reliant on coal with the current infrastructure set up and it’s difficult for them to transition to new sources.
  • Third difficulty (market forces) – due to decentralisation of environmental impact assessments of new power plants, relaxation on regulations to prevent new investments in dirty energy has increased
  • Fourth difficulty (market forces) – it has been cheaper in many cases to pay extra fees due to pollution or breaking environmental regulations than to implement energy-efficient solutions
  • Fifth difficulty (tech breakthroughs) – Technology impacts these renewable sources’ efficiency, operation and maintenance costs, and eventually, market prices. Mainly it is the infrastructure to take on new equipment.  Electricity dispatching and absorption for example is an issue because current infrastructure for power transactions doesn’t take into account the variable nature of large scale power generation from wind and solar. Xinjiang, for instance, lost 38 percent of the energy produced by wind power in 2016. Nationally, 17 percent of all wind-power generation was curtailed in 2016 and has been increasing since 2014. Moreover, China’s energy transmission lines still do not support the transference of electricity without losing a considerable amount of energy, whereas industries rely on coal, rather than electricity, to maintain their daily operation. Finally, more technological improvements are urged for cleaner coal production
  • Sixth (social welfare) – any price reform for new energy sources would reduce disposable income. Further to that, closing down existing coal power plants contributes high unemployment through loss of jobs of those who work there, and deteriorating life quality through short term loss of ability to heat homes in winter. Second, governments lose revenue from industrial taxes from decreased use of coal power plants. A relatively rapid green transition, where there is a lack of infrastructure to support the smooth substitution of energy sources alongside an education gap that does not prepare the workforce with skills required in a green economy – has negative effects.
  • Seventh (environmental resilience) – positive outcomes of a green transition are reduced air pollution, rural lands will suffer less from water contamination, and natural landscapes can endure longer. Therefore, of the four main constraints to energy reform in China, environmental resilience poses weaker barriers to the deployment of renewable energies. However, there are two repercussions worth mentioning: geographical suitability and interrelationships among environmental issues. Renewable energies depend on good geographical positioning, where the potential to generate energy outpaces the costs for installation and operation. In China, this translated into a concentration of power plants in specific areas — wind and solar power, for instance, are more advantageous in grasslands and deserts, respectively — that already suffer from soil degradation, erosion, and water scarcity, such as Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. This leads to the second repercussion with respect to the interrelationships between environmental problems. Even though renewable energies have reversible impacts on the environment, their scale of production and installation in a concentrated area aggravates the above-mentioned problems. Consequently, because renewable sources of energy depend on bigger and bigger areas of already degraded lands to scale its production, there is a physical hazard to China’s green transition.
  • Investment in clean energy is still important, but the transition will be slower and more complex, and will take time

– thediplomat.com

 

  • Some coal fired boiler to gas conversion programs have been put off until 2020 – when additional gas import capacity from Russia will be ready
  • A large-scale transition needs adequate gas distribution capacity
  • Households plus a number of industrial businesses will need to switch from coal to gas for heating and electricity
  • If Beijing doesn’t take care to increase the supply of coal and put a lid on fast-rising prices – there will be more shortages
  • Hebei (where coal use was at 86.6 percent in 2015, versus a national average of 63 percent) has its problems with insufficient gas distribution infrastructure
  • Last year, the local authorities converted more than 2.5 million households to gas and electricity heating from coal
  • Lack of communication between the government and the industry in the transition can also be an issue

– oilprice.com

 

  • Nationally, solar only generates about 2 per cent of China’s electricity and wind power a little more than 3 per cent, but much more is planned
  • China says it will be the world’s biggest investor in renewables and has pledged $400 billion by 2030.
  • the problem is much of the electricity is not getting onto the grid. It is being squeezed out by coal, which provides three-quarters of the nation’s energy needs.
  • Coal is cheap, and China is self-sufficient. And that has created a dependency
  • Coal is firmly entrenched and much of China’s business and political elites are making billions from it
  • Some say the coal culture will be a challenge to change, and top decision-makers down do not regard solar as a viable alternative yet
  • A lot of employment, a lot of incomes, a lot of GDP growth is relying on the coal industry. In the provinces the local officials prefer coal
  • Many of the massive showcase renewable projects in the outer provinces are too far away from the energy-hungry cities and industrial centres of the east, and transmission lines and the grid haven’t been upgraded to utilise the power
  • the situation is improving, but 20 per cent of renewable power that is generated is being lost.
  • In western parts large amounts of energy produced by solar and wind is wasted and not integrated into the grid, that brings a lot of losses for the companies operating the renewables
  • The other issue is cost. Renewable energy is still expensive compared to coal
  • it is only a matter of time before technological breakthroughs bring lower prices perhaps in 5 years from 2018
  • Then it will be a low-cost, clean and stable fuel of the future. In the last decade it’s already dropped from $5.00 to 40 cents a watt.
  • How effective energy reforms are, and how fast the coal culture can change – will both affect the transition

– abc.net.au

 

Sources

1. https://chinapower.csis.org/china-greenhouse-gas-emissions/

2. https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions

3. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/05/china-is-a-renewable-energy-champion-but-its-time-for-a-new-approach/

4. https://thediplomat.com/2018/04/the-stumbling-blocks-to-chinas-green-transition/

5. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-25/china-pledges-to-drastically-cut-fossil-fuels/9500228

6. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data

7. https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Chinas-Coal-To-Gas-Transition-Sputters.html

Summary/Snapshot: Greenhouse Gas Emissions In The United States (Past, Present & Future)

Summary/Snapshot: Greenhouse Gas Emissions In The United States (Past, Present & Future)

At the moment, the United States and China are some of the clear major players when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions.

We’ve put together a brief summary/snapshot of how each country sits in the global picture, and on a national scale.

This is our United States GHG Emission Summary.

 

Summary – Greenhouse Gas Emissions In The United States

  • The US leads the world in cumulative CO2 emissions throughout history, with China in second
  • The US sits behind China for annual CO2 emissions (at around half)
  • The US has one of the leading per capita CO2 emissions in the world in terms of tonnes per person per year
  • Carbon dioxide (81% of total) is by far the most common greenhouse gas emitted in the US
  • Transport, electricity production, and industry are the leading greenhouse gas emitting sectors in the US (agriculture only comes in at 9% of total)
  • CO2 emissions looked to have peaked in the US at around 2005 to 2007, and were decreasing until around 2016
  • Forecasts for the US’s greenhouse gas emissions in the future show a slight increase (based on the same activity as now) from 2016 to 2050. Cleaner energy production would change that
  • The US is moving away from using coal. Starting in 2022, forecasts say practically all additional electricity generation capacity would come either from natural gas or wind and solar.

 

*Note that future forecasts for what a country may do and their future emissions are a guide only and in reality are very hard to get accurate due to the number of variables at play. Some variables can also have a much larger impact than others – so one variable can change forecasts a lot.

 

Cumulative C02 Emissions

The countries that lead in terms of total sum of C02 emissions since 1751 and up to 2014, measured in millions of tonnes, are:

  • United States – 376,212.65 (Mt)
  • China – 174,874.89 (Mt)
  • Germany – 86,536.42 (Mt)
  • United Kingdom – 75,237.98 (Mt)
  • India – 41,784.24 (Mt)

– Ourworldindata.org

 

Annual C02 Emissions

The countries that lead in terms of total sum of C02 emissions per year in 2016, measured in millions of tonnes, are:

  • China – 10,283.51 (Mt)
  • US – 5,565.49 (Mt)
  • EU-28 – a mix of european countries (Germany features high on the list)
  • India – 2,236.55 (Mt)
  • Russia – 1,669.6 (Mt)
  • Japan – 1266.6 (Mt)

– Ourworldindata.org

 

In 2014, the global contribution to C02 emissions was:

  • China – 30%
  • Other – 30%
  • United States – 15%
  • EU-28 – 9%
  • India – 7%
  • Russia – 5%
  • Japan – 4%

– epa.gov

 

You can view a year by year C02 emission graph from 1960 to 2014 in million tons at https://www.worlddata.info/america/usa/energy-consumption.php

 

Per Capita C02 Emissions

The countries with the highest per capita C02 emissions (C02 emissions per person in the population), measured in tonnes per person per year, in 2016, are:

  • Qatar – 47.83 (tonnes per person per year)
  • Trinidad & Tobago – 30.06
  • Kuwait – 25.81
  • United Arab Emirates – 25.79
  • Bahrain – 24.51
  • Brunei – 23.7
  • Saudi Arabia – 19.66
  • New Caledonia – 18.2
  • Australia – 16.5
  • Luxembourg – 16.47
  • United States –  16.44 

– Ourworldindata.org

 

Emissions By Type Of Greenhouse Gas

In 2016, greenhouse gas emissions by type of gas in the US was:

  • Carbon Dioxide – 81%
  • Methane – 10%
  • Nitrous Oxide – 6%
  • Fluorinated Gases – 3%

– epa.gov

 

Greenhouse Gas Emissions By Sector/Industry

In 2010, greenhouse gas emissions breakdown by industry in the US was:

  • Transportation – 28%
  • Electricity – 28%
  • Industry – 22%
  • Commercial & Residential – 11%
  • Agriculture – 9%
  • Land Use & Forestry – offset of 11%

– epa.gov

You can read more about these sectors and industries and what they include in this guide.

 

Current Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trend In The United States

If you visit https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/inventory-us-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-sinks, you can see the US Greenhouse Gas Emissions both by Gas, and by Sector – from 1990 to 2016.

Page 12 of the U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions Trends and Projections Report also shows C02 Emissions from 1990 to 2016 – https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R44451.pdf.

Both show:

  • a peak in C02 Emissions around 2005 to 2007,
  • with C02 emissions on the decrease since then until 2016.

On the EPA graph, emissions in the Transportation and Electricity Generation sectors have both slightly decreased in the same time.

– epa.gov, and fas.org

 

Future Forecast For Greenhouse Gas Emissions In The United States

Precise forecasts for greenhouse gas emissions, and particularly carbon dioxide emissions, are hard to make due to factors such as economic activity, price of fossil fuels, what happens in the electricity and transport industries, government policy developments, whether there are improvements in energy efficiency + more.

So, only estimated forecasts can be made.

 

The U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions Trends and Projections Report shows two estimated forecasts for CO2 Emissions from U.S. Electricity Generation from 2016 to 2050:

  • a baseline forecast with the same activity as what is in place now would see C02 emission levels slightly increase from 2016 to 2050
  • a scenario in which a clean power plan is implemented would see C02 emission levels decrease by up to 32% below 2005 levels (and decrease from 2016 levels)

– fas.org

 

According to insideclimatenews.org (summarising the EIA’s 2018 Annual Energy Outlook publication/report), a forecast of the US’s greenhouse gas emissions future might include:

  • The US is looking unlikely to achieve a goal of bringing net emissions to zero in the second half of this century
  • Instead, the U.S. would almost single-handedly exhaust the whole world’s carbon budget by midcentury (2050)
  • The US is moving away from using coal. Starting in 2022, forecasts say practically all additional electricity generation capacity would come either from natural gas or wind and solar.
  • Natural gas production and use would grow at an annual rate of 0.8 percent, while those from petroleum and coal decline at annual rates of 0.3 and 0.2 percent, respectively, from now until 2050
  • Carbon-free wind and solar power account for 64 percent of the total electric generation growth through 2050.
  • Overall, projections have emissions staying flat for several decades. Those emissions would build up, adding more than 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year to the atmosphere for the next three decades or more.
  • By some estimates, the world can afford only a buildup of about 200 billion more tons of carbon dioxide before it busts its most stringent carbon budget—the total accumulation of pollution that would allow a 66 percent chance of limiting warming since the start of the industrial era to 1.5 degrees Celsius
  • At the baseline rate of emissions described in this new report, the U.S. carbon footprint from this year to 2050 would add up to 179 billion tons—very close to the whole planet’s budget under those estimates
  • NOTE: reports like this have limitations. They are best thought of as case studies rather than as formal forecasts – but can be useful as a general guide of what might happen in different scenarios

– insideclimatenews.org

 

Sources

1. https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions

2. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions

3. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/inventory-us-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-sinks

4. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R44451.pdf

5. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/06022018/eia-trump-greenhouse-gas-emissions-rise-climate-change-natural-gas-wind-solar-energy

6. https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/index.php

7. https://www.worlddata.info/america/usa/energy-consumption.php

Which Greenhouse Gas Is The Worst?

Which Greenhouse Gas Is The Worst?

To know which greenhouse gas is the worst, there’s probably three factors that need to be looked at:

  • Quantities of greenhouse gases emitted – so you know total volumes of each gas
  • Global warming potential/warming impact of the different gases – so you know how potent each gas is
  • How long the gas stays in the atmosphere – so you know how long it’s a problem for

In this guide, we look at each of these factors for each gas.

 

Summary – Which Greenhouse Gas Is The Worst

Overall, C02 is the the worst gas by a clear margin.

  • Other greenhouse gases (like SF₆) have a higher global warming potential that carbon dioxide
  • BUT, CO2 is emitted is far higher quantities, and remains in the atmosphere longer than the other major heat-trapping gases
  • As a result, carbon dioxide likely has the biggest potential to warm the Earth’s surface compared to other greenhouse gases

 

Global Quantities Of Greenhouse Gas Emissions By Gas Type

Globally, the gas emissions by type, in thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, are:

  • Carbon Dioxide – 35.46 million, thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2012
  • Methane – 8.01 million, thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2012
  • Nitrous Oxide – 3.15 million, thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2012
  • HFC Gases – 834,435.57 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2010
  • SF Gases – 174,905.39 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2010
  • PFC Gases – 78,622.31 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (kt CO₂e), in 2010

– ourworldindata.org

 

*Note: the quantities of GHG’s emitted by different countries, and even with states and provinces within countries can vary significantly.

 

Global Warming Potential/Warming Impact Of Each Greenhouse Gas

GWP measures the relative warming impact of one unit mass of a greenhouse gas relative to carbon dioxide.

A GWP₁₀₀ value of 28 therefore means one tonne of methane has 28 times the warming impact of one tonne of carbon dioxide over a 100-year timescale.

The GWP’s of different Greenhouse Gases are:

  • SF₆ – 23,500 [Sulfur Hexafluoride]
  • PFC-14 – 6,630 [Tetrafluoromethane, also known as carbon tetrafluoride]
  • Nitrous oxide (N₂O) – 265
  • HFC-152a – 138 [1,1-Difluoroethane, or DFE]
  • Methane (CH₄) – 28
  • Carbon dioxide (CO₂) – 1

– ourworldindata.org

 

How Long Each Greenhouse Gas Stays In The Atmosphere

  • Greenhouse gases are climate drivers
  • By measuring the abundance of heat-trapping gases in ice cores, the atmosphere, and other climate drivers along with models, the IPCC calculated the “radiative forcing” (RF) of each climate driver—in other words, the net increase (or decrease) in the amount of energy reaching Earth’s surface attributable to that climate driver.
  • Positive RF values represent average surface warming and negative values represent average surface cooling. In total, CO2 has the highest positive RF (see Figure 1) of all the human-influenced climate drivers compared by the IPCC.
  • Other gases have more potent heat-trapping ability molecule per molecule than CO2 (e.g. methane), but are simply far less abundant in the atmosphere.
  • CO2 remains in the atmosphere longer than the other major heat-trapping gases emitted as a result of human activities. It takes about a decade for methane (CH4) emissions to leave the atmosphere (it converts into CO2) and about a century for nitrous oxide (N2O).
  • After a pulse of CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere, 40% will remain in the atmosphere for 100 years and 20% will reside for 1000 years, while the final 10% will take 10,000 years to turn over. This literally means that the heat-trapping emissions we release today from our cars and power plants are setting the climate our children and grandchildren will inherit.

– ucsusa.org

 

A Note On Water Vapor As A Greenhouse Gas

  • Water vapor is the most abundant heat-trapping gas, but rarely discussed when considering human-induced climate change. The principal reason is that water vapor has a short cycle in the atmosphere (10 days on average) before it is incorporated into weather events and falls to Earth, so it cannot build up in the atmosphere in the same way as carbon dioxide does.
  • However, a vicious cycle exists with water vapor, in which as more CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere and the Earth’s temperature rises, more water evaporates into the Earth’s atmosphere, which increases the temperature of the planet. The higher temperature atmosphere can then hold more water vapor than before.

– ucsusa.org

 

Sources

1. https://www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/science-and-impacts/science/CO2-and-global-warming-faq.html#.W855shMzbR1

2. https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions

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