External costs of electricity production in the EU, 1990 and 2005 - low estimate
The external costs in the above two figures are based upon the sum of three components associated with the production of electricity: climate change damage costs associated with emissions of CO2; damage costs (such as impacts on health, crops etc) associated with other air pollutants (NOx, SO2, NMVOCs, PM10, NH3), and other non-environmental social costs for non-fossil electricity-generating technologies.
The external costs from nuclear have to be treated with caution, as only parts of the externalities are included (related to radioactive emissions from mine-tailings and possible nuclear accidents). The costs reflect to a large extent the small amount of emissions of CO2 and air pollutants, and the low risk of accidents. New estimates of the damage cost factors for nuclear energy are clearly needed in future ExternE projects (see note to figure 2 for more information).
Marginal damage cost factors (cost in € per tonne of pollutant) are taken from ExternE-Pol (2005) in the case of CO2 (low estimate) and from CAFE (Clean Air for Europe programme) in the case of the other air pollutants. The damage factors for CO2 (high estimate) are taken from Watkiss et al. (2005). Marginal damage cost factors in the case of CO2 are not country specific (i.e. all countries share the same marginal factors for CO2, one for low, 19 Euro/tonne and one for high 80 Euro/tonne). Marginal damage cost factors in the case of other pollutants are country specific. For the low estimate, the low damage factors are then applied to the level of emissions by pollutant in each Member State in 1990 and 2005 to produce a damage cost in million Euro for each pollutant for each year. Summing up the damage costs of each pollutant gives the total damage costs in each Member State for each year. The same procedure is repeated to calculate the high estimate.
A complete data set for all emission types in this category is not available for Malta, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania so these countries have been excluded from the above graphs. Cyprus has been omitted due to the CAFE conclusion that marginal damage cost factors as a result of modelling work, for this country, were not considered sufficiently robust for inclusion in the final report.
The other non-environmental social costs for nuclear and non-thermal renewables are taken from ExternE-Pol (2005) with an estimate of the external cost of nuclear accidents (of 0.25 eurocent / kWh) taken from RECaBS (2007). These provide a eurocent/kWh external cost for different types of electricity technologies, which are multiplied by the quantity of electricity produced from each of these technologies, in each Member State, for 1990 and 2005 to produce a damage cost for that year in million euro. This cost is added to that associated with the emissions of CO2 and other air pollutants and the total is then divided by the overall electricity production for that year in each Member State to produce an estimate (low and high) of the external costs associated with each unit of electricity generation.
Differences between the low and high estimate are mainly due to different methods of valuating changes in longevity. For further details on differences between ExternE-Pol and CAFE and between the CAFE low and high estimates see metadata section.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
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