Sustainable Fuels Webinar Series

Carbon abatement energy of low-carbon fuels


In efforts to meet global emissions reduction targets, policymakers are considering emission reduction measures other than simply avoiding carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, such as replacing fossil fuels with renewable alternatives and applying efficiency improvements. One critical aspect that must be considered before any technology is deployed at scale is the amount of energy invested in the mitigation option. Energy is a critical metric because global energy requirements are (currently) strongly correlated to CO2 emissions and the implementation of any technology that increases energy requirements is likely to increase emissions to a corresponding degree and hence increase the mitigation challenge.

In our latest work, we propose a metric, the ‘carbon abatement energy’ (CAE), which we define as the net energy invested per unit mass of net CO2-equivalent mitigated. We use the CAE metric to compare the CO2 mitigation performance of inherently different technologies and investigate the relative amount of energy that must be spent to mitigate CO2 by different approaches. Our analysis demonstrates that some alternative fuel options such as methanol synthesis from CO2 have a relatively high energy cost when compared to other options such as low-carbon hydrogen, particularly electrolysis from renewables.


Oytun is currently a research fellow at Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London. His research focuses on the integration of energy storage, electric vehicles and renewable energy generation into urban and rural city infrastructures. He also investigates carbon mitigation pathways with a focus on energy and environmental impacts of emerging technologies such as decarbonised liquid fuels. He was previously at University of California San Diego, where he worked on a range of different projects such as solar resource forecasting using sky imagers, grid-connected testing of battery modules, and energy system modelling of cities and micro-grids that heavily adopt solar photovoltaics. He completed his graduate studies in mechanical engineering at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and University of California San Diego

About Energy Futures Lab

Energy Futures Lab is one of six Global Institutes at Imperial College London. The institute was established to address global energy challenges by identifying and leading new opportunities to serve industry, government and society at large through high quality research, evidence and advocacy for positive change. The institute aims to promote energy innovation and advance systemic solutions for a sustainable energy future by bringing together the science, engineering and policy expertise at Imperial and fostering collaboration with a wide variety of external partners. The Energy Futures Lab daytime seminars are delivered by staff and students from across the College and further afield.