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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 Aug 2011

Emissions from public electricity and heat production - explanatory indicators (ENER 009) (ENER 009) - Assessment published Aug 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This content has been archived on 12 Nov 2013, reason: Content not regularly updated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:
1990-2008
 
Contents
 

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

Key messages

Between 1990 and 2008, EEA32 emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from public electricity and heat production fell despite a 35% increase in the amount of electricity and heat produced. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions decreased by 4.3% from the 1990 baseline, primarily as a result of the economic downturn. SO2 emissions fell by 70%, due mainly to abatement techniques, use of low-sulphur fuels, and fossil fuel switching. NOx emissions fell by 41%, 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 CO2 from public electricity and heat production between 1990 and 2008, 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:

EEA. Emissions -  CO2 emissions are from officially reported national total and sectoral emissions, reported to UNFCCC and EU Monitoring Mechanism, .

Available at: http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/data/national-emissions-reported-to-the-unfccc-and-to-the-eu-greenhouse-gas-monitoring-mechanism-4

 

EUROSTAT. Energy data - Heat and electricity from public thermal power stations from Eurostat, http://europa.eu.int/comm/eurostat/.

Downloads and more info

Estimated impact of different factors on the reduction in emissions of SO2 from public electricity and heat production between 1990 and 2008, 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:

EEA. Emissions - Officially reported national total and sectoral emissions to UNECE/EMEP (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe/Co-operative programme for monitoring and evaluation of the long-range transmissions of air pollutants in Europe) Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP). Available at:
http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/data/eea-aggregated-and-gap-filled-air-emission-data-3

EUROSTAT. Energy data - Output of heat and electricity from public thermal power stations from Eurostat http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database

Downloads and more info

Estimated impact of different factors on the reduction in emissions of NOx from public electricity and heat production between 1990 and 2008, 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:

EEA. Emissions - Officially reported national total and sectoral emissions to UNECE/EMEP (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe/Co-operative programme for monitoring and evaluation of the long-range transmissions of air pollutants in Europe) Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP). Available at: http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/data/eea-aggregated-and-gap-filled-air-emission-data-3

EUROSTAT. Energy data - heat and electricity from public thermal power stations from Eurostat http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/energy/data/database

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 decreased by 4.3% between 1990 and 2008 (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 2008 emissions of CO2 would have increased by 35% above their 1990 levels, in line with the additional amount of electricity and heat produced. The decrease in CO2 emissions can be explained by the economic downturn and the reduction in energy and fuel use in 2008.

The relationship between the increase in electricity and heat generation (+35%) and the decrease in CO2 emissions (-4.3%) in the EEA-32 during 1990-2008 can be explained by the following factors:

  1. The economic recession, which started during the second half of the 2008, also contributed to emission reductions from several sectors including the manufacturing and construction, and road transport sectors having the biggest impact on the industrial sector. Energy consumption and fuel use in this sector has decrease compared to 2007.
  2. Thermal efficiency: There was a 18% 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.
  3. Fossil fuel switching: CO2 emissions per unit of fossil-fuel input. There was a 15% reduction in the CO2 emissions per unit of fossil-fuel input during 1990-2008. The combination of high coal and carbon prices accompanied by a drop in natural gas prices in 2008 induced heat and electricity producers to replace more polluting coal by gas and as a result, reduce their GHG emissions. The use of biomass and other renewable sources (wind and hydroelectric power) has also increased significantly in 2008, attributing further to the reduction in GHG emissions. 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.
  4. 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 2%. 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 54%, respectively, since 1990.
Emissions of SO2 from public electricity and heat production in the EU fell by 70% between 1990 and 2008 (see Figure 2). This was mainly due to abatement techniques, use of low-sulphur fuels, to fossil fuel switching and the economic downturn. 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 41% over the period 1990 to 2008 (see Figure 3). If the structure of power production had remained unchanged from 1990 then by 2008 emissions of NOx would have increased by 35% 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

2010 2.8.1 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

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European Environment Agency (EEA)
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