A look at the carbon emissions of electricity

I believe fossil fuels will be replaced sooner or later by electricity. This might prove to be a good thing as and are two excellent energy efficient solutions.

Thus, electric consumption is rising and is due to keep rising in the next decades. Having low carbon sources to generate electricity is very thus important for a country.

This is the occasion for me to propose you data on the carbon intensity and origin of electricity generation in some affluent countries.

One of the conclusions that come to my mind after researching for this topic : is not be the absolute evil some want you to believe. Indeed, it enables us to generate a lot of low carbon electricity. Of course, it is not perfect, but there is no such thing.

I found the data of this table in Sustainable energy – without the hot air, my favorite green reading.

Here is another table giving the origin of the electricity. The breakdown is between thermal, nuclear and renewables.

I am quite astounded at the correlations between the two tables.

Countries with more than 50 percent of their electricity coming from thermal solutions have carbon dioxide emissions superior to 400 grams per kWh.

Meanwhile, countries with less than ten percent of electricity coming from these solutions have carbon dioxide emissions lower than 100 grams per kWh.


Edouard is a sustainability and energy professional committed to bringing our societies to a carbon neutral future. He has been writing on related topics on this very blog since 2007.

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3 Responses

  1. Monday, February 22, 2010

    […] expansion of solar photovoltaic. I believe this is quite a good thing even if our electricity is 90 percent low carbon. (80 percent nuclear and ten percent […]

  2. Wednesday, March 3, 2010

    […] the few developed nations to have below 100 grams of CO2 equivalent per kWh. Current levels are above 600 as the United States rely on around 70 percent thermal, 20 percent nuclear and only ten percent […]

  3. Friday, March 18, 2016

    […] You might believe that given the importance of the Greens in Deutschland, electricity emits little carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases per kWh. This clearly isn’t the case as I have previously wrote about it in a previous article for my own blog. […]

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