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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Emissions from public electricity and heat production - explanatory indicators (ENER 009) / Emissions from public electricity and heat production - explanatory indicators (ENER 009) (ENER 009) - Assessment published Jan 2011

Emissions from public electricity and heat production - explanatory indicators (ENER 009) (ENER 009) - Assessment published Jan 2011

This content has been archived on 12 Nov 2013, reason: Content not regularly updated
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Generic metadata

Topics:

Energy Energy (Primary topic)

Air pollution Air pollution

Tags:
co2 | electricity | energy | heat | so2 | nox | emissions
DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Efficiency indicator (Type C - Are we improving?)
Indicator codes
  • ENER 009
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
1990-2007
Geographic coverage:
Austria Belgium Bulgaria Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy Latvia Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden Switzerland Turkey United Kingdom
 
Contents
 

Key policy question: Is the use and production of energy having a decreasing impact on the environment?

Key messages

Between 1990 and 2007, EEA32 emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from public electricity and heat production fell despite a 32% increase in the amount of electricity and heat produced. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions increased by 0.8% from the 1990 baseline, as a result of fuel switching and efficiency improvements. SO2 emissions fell by 62%, due mainly to abatement techniques, use of low-sulphur fuels, and fossil fuel switching. NOx emissions fell by 39%, primarily due to abatement techniques. Some emissions have risen in recent years due to increased utilisation of existing coal plant with higher emissions per unit of output.

Estimated impact of different factors on the reduction in emissions of nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide (NOx) from public electricity and heat production between 1990 and 2007, EEA-32

Note: The chart shows the estimated contributions of the various factors that have affected emissions from public electricity and heat production (including public thermal power stations, nuclear power stations, hydro power plants and wind plants).

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Estimated impact of different factors on the reduction in emissions of Carbon dioxide (CO2) from public electricity and heat production between 1990 and 2007, EEA-32

Note: The chart shows the estimated contributions of the various factors that have affected emissions from public electricity and heat production (including public thermal power stations, nuclear power stations, hydro power plants and wind plants).

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Estimated impact of different factors on the reduction in emissions of Sulfur dioxide (SO2) from public electricity and heat production between 1990 and 2007, EEA-32

Note: The chart shows the estimated contributions of the various factors that have affected emissions from public electricity and heat production (including public thermal power stations, nuclear power stations, hydro power plants and wind plants).

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Key assessment

Public electricity and heat production accounts for nearly 30% of all GHG emissions in Europe, of which CO2 is the predominant pollutant. Emissions of CO2 from public electricity and heat production in the EEA-32 increased by 0.8% between 1990 and 2007 (see Figure 1). However, if the structure of electricity and heat production had remained unchanged from 1990 (i.e. if the shares of input fuels used to produce electricity and heat had remained constant and the efficiency of electricity and heat production also stayed the same), then by 2007 emissions of CO2 would have increased by 32% above their 1990 levels, in line with the additional amount of electricity and heat produced. The much smaller increase in CO2 emissions can be explained by fossil fuel switch and efficiency improvements.

The relationship between the increase in electricity and heat generation (+32%) and the actual increase in CO2 emissions (+0.8%) in the EEA-32 during 1990-2007 can be explained by the following factors:

  1. Thermal efficiency: There was a 13% reduction in the fossil-fuel input per unit of electricity produced from fossil fuels. This was due to e.g. the closure of old, inefficient power plants and the introduction of new plants based on more efficient combined cycle technologies.
  2. Fossil fuel switching: CO2 emissions per unit of fossil-fuel input. There was a 14% reduction in the CO2 emissions per unit of fossil-fuel input during 1990-2007. Changes in the fossil fuel mix used to produce electricity (e.g. fuel switching from coal and lignite to natural gas) with much of this being linked to the increased use of the economically attractive gas turbine combined cycle technology and the closure of a number of coal-fired power plants. However, a rise in the price of gas relative to coal in recent years has led to increased utilisation of existing coal plants, and thus in emissions from public electricity and heat production from around 1999 onwards.

  3. Nuclear and renewable energy: Estimated by the share of electricity from fossil fuels in total electricity production. During 1990-2007, the share of electricity from fossil fuels in total electricity production increased by 3%. The nuclear and renewables sub-effects can be further split additively based on their respective shares in total electricity production. Renewables has contributed positively to the reduction in emissions. Nuclear electricity has increased since 1990 but its share in total electricity production has fallen (hence the small but negative explanatory effect shown in figure 1). Electricity generated by nuclear and renewables has increased by 18% and 43%, respectively, since 1990.


Emissions of SO2 from public electricity and heat production in the EU fell by 62% between 1990 and 2007 (see Figure 2). This was mainly due to abatement techniques, use of low-sulphur fuels, and to fossil fuel switching. The increased utilisation of coal plants has in recent years meant that the decline in SO2 emissions has slowed, although the significant specific reductions being achieved by flue gas desulphurisation mean that SO2 emissions have continued to fall in absolute terms.

Emissions of NOx from public electricity and heat production in the EU fell by 39% over the period 1990 to 2007 (see Figure 3). If the structure of power production had remained unchanged from 1990 then by 2007 emissions of NOx would have increased by 32% above their 1990 levels. NOx emissions stayed broadly stable since 2000. This trend is linked to an increased use of coal and lignite for electricity and heat production from 1999/2000 onwards.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Anca-Diana Barbu

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2009 2.9.1 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

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Comments

European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100