Consequential implications of municipal energy system on city carbon footprints

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Researchers

Research units

  • University of Iceland

Abstract

Climate change mitigation is an important goal for cities globally. Energy production contributes more than half of the global greenhouse gas emissions, and thus the mitigation potential of local municipal energy systems is important for cities to recognize. The purpose of the study is to analyze the role of local municipal energy systems in the consumption-based carbon footprint of a city resident. The research supplements the previous carbon footprint assessments of city residents with an energy system implication analysis. The study includes 20 of the largest cities in Finland. The main findings of the study are as follows: first, the municipal combined heat and power energy system contributes surprisingly little (on average 18%) to the direct carbon footprint of city residents, supporting some previous findings about a high degree of outsourcing of emissions in cities in developed countries. Second, when indirect emissions (i.e., the implication of a municipal energy system on the national energy system) are allocated to city residents, the significance of the local energy system increases substantially to 32%. Finally, without the benefits of local combined heat and power technology based electricity consumption, the carbon footprints would have increased by an additional 13% to 47% due to the emissions from compensatory electricity production. The results also show that the direct application of consumption-based carbon assessment would imply a relatively low significance for municipal energy solutions. However, with a broader understanding of energy system dynamics, the significance of municipal energy increases substantially. The results emphasize the importance of the consequential energy system implications, which is typically left out of the evaluations of consumption-based carbon footprints.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number1801
JournalSustainability
Volume9
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • Carbon footprint assessment, Climate change mitigation, Energy systems, Life cycle assessment

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