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Comparative net energy analysis of renewable electricity and carbon capture and storage

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Sgouris Sgouridis
  • Michael Carbajales-Dale
  • Denes Csala
  • Matteo Chiesa
  • Ugo Bardi
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>8/04/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Nature Energy
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)456–465
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Carbon capture and storage (CCS) for fossil-fuel power plants is perceived as a critical technology for climate mitigation. Nevertheless, limited installed capacity to date raises concerns about the ability of CCS to scale sufficiently. Conversely, scalable renewable electricity installations—solar and wind—are already deployed at scale and have demonstrated a rapid expansion potential. Here we show that power-sector CO2 emission reductions accomplished by investing in renewable technologies generally provide a better energetic return than CCS. We estimate the electrical energy return on energy invested ratio of CCS projects, accounting for their operational and infrastructural energy penalties, to range between 6.6:1 and 21.3:1 for 90% capture ratio and 85% capacity factor. These values compare unfavourably with dispatchable scalable renewable electricity with storage, which ranges from 9:1 to 30+:1 under realistic configurations. Therefore, renewables plus storage provide a more energetically effective approach to climate mitigation than constructing CCS fossil-fuel power stations.