UCL Energy Institute


Does accounting for indirect emissions affect energy system decarbonisation pathways?


21 August 2013

Energy efficiency, electrification and the decarbonisation of electricity are at the forefront of UK and other G20 countries’ climate policy: Radical changes to the current energy system will be required in order to meet a challenging commitment to reduce 2050 GHG emissions by 80% compared with a 1990 baseline. Technology explicit energy system models are used in the UK and internationally to define pathways to meeting such low carbon pathways, but these models only account for the emissions associated with energy combustion and do not include emissions arising from infrastructure, manufacturing, construction, land use and transport associated with different low-carbon energy technologies and fuels. We address this shortcoming and for the first time explicitly model the full lifecycle emissions of all energy technologies within an energy system model: We estimate the supply chain emissions across current and future energy technologies for the UK and apply these to the UK MARKAL energy system model. Results demonstrate how the least cost energy mix for the UK up to 2050 changes when all lifecycle emissions are taken into account. We also differentiate between lifecycle emissions produced in the UK and those produced internationally, and thereby measure the carbon leakage associated with different energy system pathways and accounting methods.

Does accounting for indirect emissions affect energy system decarbonisation pathways?.

Daly, H.E., Scott, K., Barrett, J., Strachan, N. (2013)

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