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The life cycle greenhouse gas implications of a UK gas supply transformation on a future low carbon electricity sector


  • P. Hammond, Geoffrey
  • O' Grady, Áine


Natural gas used for power generation will be increasingly sourced from more geographically diverse sites, and unconventional sources such as shale and biomethane, as natural gas reserves diminish. A consequential life cycle approach was employed to examine the implications of an evolving gas supply on the greenhouse gas (GHG) performance of a future United Kingdom (UK) electricity system. Three gas supply mixes were developed based on supply trends, from present day to the year 2050. The contribution of upstream gas emissions - such as extraction, processing/refining, - is not fully reported or covered by UK government legislation. However, upstream gas emissions were seen to be very influential on the future electricity systems analysed; with upstream gas emissions per MJ rising between 2.7 and 3.4 times those of the current supply. Increased biomethane in the gas supply led to a substantial reduction in direct fossil emissions, which was found to be critical in offsetting rising upstream emissions. Accordingly, the modelled high shale gas scenario, with the lowest biomethane adoption; resulted in the highest GHG emissions on a life cycle basis. The long-term dynamics of upstream processes are explored in this work to help guide future decarbonisation policies.

Suggested Citation

  • P. Hammond, Geoffrey & O' Grady, Áine, 2017. "The life cycle greenhouse gas implications of a UK gas supply transformation on a future low carbon electricity sector," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 937-949.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:energy:v:118:y:2017:i:c:p:937-949
    DOI: 10.1016/

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hammond, G.P. & Akwe, S.S. Ondo & Williams, S., 2011. "Techno-economic appraisal of fossil-fuelled power generation systems with carbon dioxide capture and storage," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 975-984.
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