Energy density and spatial footprints of various electrical power systems

Vincent K M Cheng, Geoffrey P. Hammond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


Conventional and renewable power generators have been evaluated in order to determine their energy densities and spatial footprints on a life-cycle (or 'cradle-T o-gate') basis. The nuclear fuel cycle (both with diffusion and centrifuge enrichment) was found to have the highest energy density, with bioenergy plants having the lowest. Onshore wind power exhibited a relatively promising energy density; being greater than that for its offshore counterpart. The energy density of the latter fell below that of solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays. Thus, renewables produce 'dilute electricity' overall with a spatial footprint that is orders-ofmagnitude higher than for conventional sources, although there are many other sustainability criteria that will determine their usefulness in the transition towards a low carbon future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)578-581
Number of pages4
JournalEnergy Procedia
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Electrical power systems
  • Energy densities
  • Fossil-fuelled power plants
  • Nuclear power stations
  • Renewable energy technologies
  • Spatial footprints


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