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The Cradle to Grave Carbon Footprints of Energy Sources

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Nothing in life is simple. Every energy source generates carbon when you consider emissions from cradle to grave. Each source starts with the materials it is made from. That includes the energy and fossil fuel used to mine or extract elements from the earth, processing, manufacturing, transportation, construction and maintenance. When each of these basic factors as well as others are considered, there is a carbon footprint associated with bringing the energy source online. When you consider the carbon generated by the source over its operational lifetime as well as the carbon created during the sources decommissioning, you then are able to calculate its cradle to grave carbon footprint. I spent nearly forty years teaching a course called Energy Resources and Systems and I co-authored two textbooks: Energy Resources and Systems Volume 1 Fundamentals and Non-Renewables & Volume 2 Renewables. The one fact that no energy resource can get around is that there is an expenditure of energy from cradle to grave to produce power. A large fraction of that expended energy will come from fossil fuels. Thus a good gage of the cradle to grave carbon footprint for an energy source is measured by the energy multiplier value which I called "Q" in my lectures. If you are interested in the concept of Energy Q Value, you can download the pdf file below.

Energy Q value 5-30-23
Download PDF • 150KB

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