Emissions (CO2, SO2, NOx) from public electricity and heat production - explanatory indicators

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-133-en
Also known as: ENER 009
expired Created 20 Mar 2009 Published 05 Jul 2010 Last modified 19 Apr 2016, 04:57 PM
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This content has been archived on 12 Nov 2013, reason: Content not regularly updated
Between 1990 and 2006, EEA32 emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from public electricity and heat production fell despite a 30% increase in the amount of electricity and heat produced. CO2 emissions decreased by 0.4% from the 1990 baseline, as a result of fuel switching and efficiency improvements. SO2 emissions fell by 61%, due mainly to abatement techniques, use of low-sulphur fuels, and fossil fuel switching. NOx emissions fell by 43%, 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.

Key messages

Between 1990 and 2006, EEA32 emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from public electricity and heat production fell despite a 30% increase in the amount of electricity and heat produced. CO2 emissions decreased by 0.4% from the 1990 baseline, as a result of fuel switching and efficiency improvements. SO2 emissions fell by 61%, due mainly to abatement techniques, use of low-sulphur fuels, and fossil fuel switching. NOx emissions fell by 43%, 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.

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Estimated impact of different factors on the reduction in emissions of CO2 from public electricity and heat production between 1990 and 2006, EEA-32

Note: The charts show 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:

European Environment Agency

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 2006, EEA-32

Note: The charts show 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:

European Environment Agency.

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 2006, EEA-32

Note: The charts show 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:

European Environment Agency.

Downloads and more info

Public electricity and heat production is the most important source of CO2 emissions (around one-third of all CO2 emissions) and is the largest and second largest source respectively of SO2 and NOx emissions (the largest for the latter being transport).

Emissions of CO2 from public electricity and heat production in the EEA-32 decreased by 0.4% between 1990 and 2006. 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 2006 emissions of CO2 would have increased by 30% above their 1990 levels, in line with the additional amount of electricity and heat produced. The (small) reduction in emissions can be explained by fossil fuel switch and efficiency improvements.
The relationship between the increase in electricity generation (+30%) and the actual reduction in CO2 emissions (-0.4%) in the EEA-32 during 1990-2006 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 13% reduction in the CO2 emissions per unit of fossil-fuel input during 1990-2006. 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 1990-2006, 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).
Emissions of NOx from public electricity and heat production in the EU fell by 43% over the period 1990 to 2006 (figure 2). If the structure of power production had remained unchanged from 1990 then by 2006 emissions of NOx would have increased by 30% 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.
Emissions of SO2 from public electricity and heat production in the EU fell by 61% between 1990 and 2006 (figure 3). 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.

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Generic metadata

Topics:

Energy Energy (Primary topic)

Tags:
energy
DPSIR: N/A
Typology: N/A
Indicator codes
  • ENER 009
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

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Ricardo FERNANDEZ BAYON

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2010 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

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