I'm searching for CO2 emission factors for primary energy consumption. What I mean by that is a table like the one below.

Primary Energy CO2/kWh
Coal .
Oil .
Natural Gases .
Nuclear .
... .

For now, I have only been able to find electricity CO2 factor, which is not what I'm looking for since Electricity is secondary energy.

Is this table available and even exist somewhere?

Thanks in advance for your help.


The idea behind my question is to be able to find for a country its primary energy consumption, knowing

  • its mix for its primary energy, $m$
  • its CO2 emission, $e$
  • the carbon emission factor of every source, the table above

Also, maybe this is an absurd reasoning and that's why there are not such data, what do you think? Any information going that way could be useful as well.


1 Answer 1



Emission factors (or intensities) are reported by IPCC, e.g. IPCC 5th Assessment Report Annex 3 (2014). These figures aim to include direct emissions as well as full lifecycle emissions including upstream methane, supply-chain and manufacturing emissions, and include all gases, converted into CO2 equivalent over a 100 year timescale.

Table below shows missions of selected electricity supply technologies (gCO2eq/kWh). Note that the numbers are in format: min/median/max.

Currently Commercially Available Technologies Direct Emissions Lifecycle emissions (incl. albedo effect)
Coal - PC 670/760/870 740/820/910
Gas - Combined Cycle 350/370/490 410/490/650
Biomass - cofiring n.a. 620/740/890
Biomass - dedicated n.a. 130/230/420
Geothermal 0 6.0/38/79
Hydropower 0 1.0/24/2200
Nuclear 0 3.7/12/110
Concentrated Solar Power 0 8.8/27/63
Solar PV - rooftop 0 26/41/60
Solar PV - utility 0 18/48/180
Wind onshore 0 7.0/11/56
Wind offshore 0 8.0/12/35


IPCC figures represent (to my best knowledge) the most comprehensive attempt to estimate global fuel emissions intensities. Nonetheless, these emissions factors may differ from reality for a number of reasons. Some of them I listed below:

  1. Fuel quality: Fuels used in different regions can have different characteristics and emissions profiles. Coal is one example: softer coal grades, such as lignite (brown coal), produce greater carbon emissions per kilowatt hour than harder grades like anthracite.
  2. Methane: In IPCC figures, upstream methane emissions for gas and coal generation are calculated on a long-term basis assuming methane is x21 as potent as CO2; the short-term impact of methane is actually four times higher, at x86 the potency of CO2. See this page for more information.
  3. Thermal power plant efficiency: Coal and gas plants use several different technologies, with more recent plants generally being more efficient. The incidence of different technologies varies between countries, and over time within countries. In particular, new Chinese coal plants are generally more efficient than the ones they replace, leading to an emissions intensity reduction through time.
  4. Solar and wind: Recent efficiency improvements have seen Wind and Solar emissions intensity drop, as energy output has increased relative to emissions from manufacturing. IPCC numbers may therefore be higher than reality.
  5. Bioenergy: Bioenergy is problematic in many aspects. Emissions intensity of Bioenergy is highly dependent on the feedstock, how it was sourced, and what would have happened had the feedstock not been burnt for energy. The IPCC figure we use is for dedicated energy crops and crop residues, rather than the more commonly used woody or forest biomass, which has been shown to carry a greater risk of high-carbon outcomes. In certain cases, bioenergy can have a carbon intensity significantly greater than coal.
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for you answer. Nevertheless I was aware of this co2 emissions table but they doesn't reply to my question which concerned the primary energy comsuption emission by sources. For now the only source I found was in link Table A-3. But the srouce is not clear. Is there something I doesn't understand and my question doesn't make sense? $\endgroup$ Feb 17 at 12:50
  • $\begingroup$ The source you provided does point out to Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy report (2017) which then references IPCC 4th Assessment Report. Coming back to my original source, that is IPCC 5th Assessment Report, does table 10.2 is of interest to you? $\endgroup$
    – bajun65537
    Feb 17 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ It's an interesting table, but I don't immediately see how i could use it. The idea behind my question was to be able, knowing a country mix for its primary energy, its CO2 emission and the carbon emission factor of every source used, to find its primary energy consumption. Unfortunately, this table aggregates and doesn't the energy mix of the region. Maybe this is absurd and that's why there is no such data, what do you think? I also don't know if I'm allowed to ask that here or if I need to redo a Ask. Anyway, thanks for trying to help me on that question. $\endgroup$ Feb 17 at 15:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Is this definition from Eurostat what you have in mind when asking for primary energy consumption? Primary energy consumption measures the total energy demand of a country. It covers consumption of the energy sector itself, losses during transformation (for example, from oil or gas into electricity) and distribution of energy, and the final consumption by end users. It excludes energy carriers used for non-energy purposes (such as petroleum not used not for combustion but for producing plastics). $\endgroup$
    – bajun65537
    Feb 17 at 15:41
  • $\begingroup$ Also, I think it's okay to edit a question in order to clarify what you are asking for. $\endgroup$
    – bajun65537
    Feb 17 at 15:42

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