Wind and Solar GHG Emissions Vary Substantially, but are Lower than Coal or Gas in all Cases

by Tim Storer

            Renewable energy sources, such as wind power generation, are often touted as preferable alternatives to fossil fuels because they produce electricity in an “emissions-free” manner. In actuality, some emissions are created during the production, distribution, and disposal of these technologies, making them not a truly “emissions-free” means of energy production. In order to determine the real relative advantages of various energy sources (in respect to carbon emissions), the full life cycle must be considered. Daniel Nugent and Benjamin Sovacool conducted a literature review of 153 lifecycle studies examining total carbon emissions associated with energy from wind and solar plants and determined estimates of industry averages. Of the 41 studies deemed “best,” an average of 34.1 g CO2/kWh was seen for wind energy and 49.9 g CO2/kWh for solar. Among these cases, substantial variability was observed, with wind emissions varying between 0.4–364.8 g CO2/kWh and solar emitting 1–218 g CO2/kWh. Continue reading

Biofuel for Energy Security in Taiwan

by Chieh-Hsin Chen

Taiwan being an isolated island country, one of the most important concerns is energy security. To enhance Taiwan’s energy security, there is interest by the Taiwanese to produce energy on their own. In addition to the energy security issues, climate change is also one of the serious challenges that Taiwan is facing. There has been a significant increase in hurricanes and storms hitting Taiwan since 2007, potentially the result of CO2 induced climate change. As the 25th largest CO2 emissions country, Taiwan has expressed a willingness to reduce CO2 emissions and to mitigate global warming climate shift. Kung et al. (2013) analyze the use of biofuel with standard of CO2 emission, fertilizer use, and land use change. The Modified Taiwan Agricultural Sector Model (MTASM) is used for economic and environmental analysis in this study, and shows that Taiwan would increase its energy security from bioenergy production, but net greenhouse gases emission would also be increased; fertilizer use and land use changes also have significant impact on the greenhouse emission offset. Continue reading