Leaky power grids are a huge source of carbon emissions

Reproduced from The Conversation; Note: IEA estimates used to compare calculations; Chart: Axios Visuals

Leaky power grids that waste energy before it reaches consumers are an often overlooked source of carbon emissions, per The Conversation.

What they did: Researchers calculated the pollution from additional energy needed to make up for what's lost in transmission and distribution systems worldwide.

  • The experts with Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland tallied "compensatory emissions" based on generation sources and grid quality in different countries.

What they found: It's big when you add it all up.

  • The losses also vary a lot by country, notes the piece derived from a recent paper in the journal Nature Climate Change.
  • "In 2016, aggregate transmission and distribution losses reached 19% in India and 16% in Brazil," they note.
  • They were over 50% in Haiti, Iraq, and the Republic of Congo, which "means that only half of the electricity generated reached or was billed to the consumers as usable power."

What's next: They call for greater attention to stemming emissions through use of better tech and infrastructure upgrades.

  • Various ways to lower energy loss include replacing inefficient transmission wires, using superconductors to reduce resistance in transmission wires, and configuring distribution lines in a better way.

Go deeper: The carbon footprints of the rich and activist