CUED Publications database

Not all low-carbon energy pathways are environmentally "no-regrets" options

Konadu, DD and Mourão, ZS and Allwood, JM and Richards, KS and Kopec, GM and McMahon, RA and Fenner, RA (2015) Not all low-carbon energy pathways are environmentally "no-regrets" options. Global Environmental Change, 35. pp. 379-390. ISSN 0959-3780

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© 2015 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Energy system pathways which are projected to deliver minimum possible deployment cost, combined with low Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, are usually considered as 'no-regrets' options. However, the question remains whether such energy pathways present 'no-regrets' when also considering the wider environmental resource impacts, in particular those on land and water resources. This paper aims to determine whether the energy pathways of the UK's Carbon Plan are environmental "no-regrets" options, defined in this study as simultaneously exhibiting low impact on land and water services resulting from resource appropriation for energy provision. This is accomplished by estimating the land area and water abstraction required by 2050 under the four pathways of the Carbon Plan with different scenarios for energy crop composition, yield, and power station locations. The outcomes are compared with defined limits for sustainable land appropriation and water abstraction.The results show that of the four Carbon Plan pathways, only the "Higher Renewables, more energy efficiency" pathway is an environmental "no-regrets" option, and that is only if deployment of power stations inland is limited. The study shows that policies for future low-carbon energy systems should be developed with awareness of wider environmental impacts. Failing to do this could lead to a setback in achieving GHG emission reductions goals, because of unforeseen additional competition between the energy sector and demand for land and water services in other sectors.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Div D > Structures
Div D > Geotechnical and Environmental
Div D > Sustainable Development
Div B > Electronics, Power & Energy Conversion
Depositing User: Cron Job
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2017 19:45
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2020 05:09
DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015.10.002