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Title: Environmental co-benefits and adverse side-effects of alternative power sector decarbonization strategies

Abstract

A rapid and deep decarbonization of power supply worldwide is a pivotal element of any strategy for limiting global warming to well below 2 °C. Previous studies have shown substantial flexibility in technology choice for achieving near carbon-free electricity supply. Here we combine scenarios from integrated assessment models with forward-looking life-cycle assessment to explore how alternative power sector decarbonization strategies compare on the system level in terms of non-climate environmental impacts. While all strategies yield major environmental co-benefits, we find that the scale of co-benefits as well as profiles of adverse side-effects depend strongly on technology choice. Mitigation scenarios focusing on wind and solar power are more effective in reducing human health impacts compared to those focusing on nuclear and CCS, while inducing a more pronounced shift away from fossil toward mineral resource depletion. Conversely, an increase in land requirements, chiefly for bioenergy, exacerbates non-climate ecosystem damage from power supply in all decarbonization scenarios.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [3]; ORCiD logo [4]; ORCiD logo [5];  [6];  [7];  [8]; ORCiD logo [5]; ORCiD logo [8];  [9]; ORCiD logo [10];  [5];  [5];  [6]; ORCiD logo [11]; ORCiD logo [12]
  1. Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Potsdam (Germany); Technische Univ. Berlin, Berlin (Germany)
  2. Technische Univ. Berlin, Berlin (Germany)
  3. Norwegian Univ. of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim (Norway)
  4. Norwegian Univ. of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim (Norway); Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), Belvaux (Luxembourg)
  5. Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Potsdam (Germany)
  6. PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (The Netherlands)
  7. International Inst. for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg (Austria)
  8. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), College Park, MD (United States)
  9. Univ. Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble (France)
  10. Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Potsdam (Germany); Utrecht Univ., Utrecht (The Netherlands)
  11. PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (The Netherlands); Utrecht Univ., Utrecht (The Netherlands)
  12. Norwegian Univ. of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim (Norway); Yale Univ., New Haven, CT (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1577971
Report Number(s):
PNNL-ACT-SA-10352
Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 10; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Luderer, Gunnar, Pehl, Michaja, Arvesen, Anders, Gibon, Thomas, Bodirsky, Benjamin L., de Boer, Harmen Sytze, Fricko, Oliver, Hejazi, Mohamad I., Humpenöder, Florian, Iyer, Gokul C., Mima, Silvana, Mouratiadou, Ioanna, Pietzcker, Robert C., Popp, Alexander, van den Berg, Maarten, van Vuuren, Detlef, and Hertwich, Edgar G. Environmental co-benefits and adverse side-effects of alternative power sector decarbonization strategies. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.1038/s41467-019-13067-8.
Luderer, Gunnar, Pehl, Michaja, Arvesen, Anders, Gibon, Thomas, Bodirsky, Benjamin L., de Boer, Harmen Sytze, Fricko, Oliver, Hejazi, Mohamad I., Humpenöder, Florian, Iyer, Gokul C., Mima, Silvana, Mouratiadou, Ioanna, Pietzcker, Robert C., Popp, Alexander, van den Berg, Maarten, van Vuuren, Detlef, & Hertwich, Edgar G. Environmental co-benefits and adverse side-effects of alternative power sector decarbonization strategies. United States. doi:10.1038/s41467-019-13067-8.
Luderer, Gunnar, Pehl, Michaja, Arvesen, Anders, Gibon, Thomas, Bodirsky, Benjamin L., de Boer, Harmen Sytze, Fricko, Oliver, Hejazi, Mohamad I., Humpenöder, Florian, Iyer, Gokul C., Mima, Silvana, Mouratiadou, Ioanna, Pietzcker, Robert C., Popp, Alexander, van den Berg, Maarten, van Vuuren, Detlef, and Hertwich, Edgar G. Tue . "Environmental co-benefits and adverse side-effects of alternative power sector decarbonization strategies". United States. doi:10.1038/s41467-019-13067-8. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1577971.
@article{osti_1577971,
title = {Environmental co-benefits and adverse side-effects of alternative power sector decarbonization strategies},
author = {Luderer, Gunnar and Pehl, Michaja and Arvesen, Anders and Gibon, Thomas and Bodirsky, Benjamin L. and de Boer, Harmen Sytze and Fricko, Oliver and Hejazi, Mohamad I. and Humpenöder, Florian and Iyer, Gokul C. and Mima, Silvana and Mouratiadou, Ioanna and Pietzcker, Robert C. and Popp, Alexander and van den Berg, Maarten and van Vuuren, Detlef and Hertwich, Edgar G.},
abstractNote = {A rapid and deep decarbonization of power supply worldwide is a pivotal element of any strategy for limiting global warming to well below 2 °C. Previous studies have shown substantial flexibility in technology choice for achieving near carbon-free electricity supply. Here we combine scenarios from integrated assessment models with forward-looking life-cycle assessment to explore how alternative power sector decarbonization strategies compare on the system level in terms of non-climate environmental impacts. While all strategies yield major environmental co-benefits, we find that the scale of co-benefits as well as profiles of adverse side-effects depend strongly on technology choice. Mitigation scenarios focusing on wind and solar power are more effective in reducing human health impacts compared to those focusing on nuclear and CCS, while inducing a more pronounced shift away from fossil toward mineral resource depletion. Conversely, an increase in land requirements, chiefly for bioenergy, exacerbates non-climate ecosystem damage from power supply in all decarbonization scenarios.},
doi = {10.1038/s41467-019-13067-8},
journal = {Nature Communications},
number = 1,
volume = 10,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {11}
}

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