Virtual CO2 emission flows in the global electricity trade network
Quantifying greenhouse gas emissions due to electricity consumption is crucial for climate mitigation in the electric power sector. Current practices primarily use production-based emission factors to quantify emissions for electricity consumption, assuming production and consumption of electricity take place within the same region. The increasingly intensified cross-border electricity trade complicates the accounting for emissions of electricity consumption. This study employs a network approach to account for the flows in the whole electricity trade network to estimate CO2 emissions of electricity consumption for 137 major countries/regions in 2014. Results show that in some countries, especially those in Europe and Southern Africa, the impacts of electricity trade on the estimation of emission factors and embodied emissions are significant. The changes made to emission factors by considering intergrid electricity trade can have significant implications for emission accounting and climate mitigation when multiplied by total electricity consumption of the corresponding countries/regions.