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Environmental costs of electricity generation (2007)

TR 2007/09

On this page: Abstract , table of contents

Report: TR 2007/09
Author: Tim Denne (Covec Ltd)


This report examines the social costs of electricity generation. Social here refers to the full costs to society. This includes the private costs of generation and the wider costs falling on society because of the environmental impacts of energy use. The analysis has been limited to the most significant impact categories.

International studies have shown that the external effects are dominated by those associated with air emissions from generation. Other effects include amenity impacts of plants; these are highly site-specific, are taken into account in the consent process and are not considered here.

The report explores the potential use of monetary valuation of damage costs as an input to the development of policies relating to energy and analysis of the implications of proposals for new plants. It also provides some context for the consideration of national versus local impacts in electricity supply.

The report is limited to the implications of electricity generation; it does not consider the impacts of transmission which are the subject of analyses in other fora. Nor does it assess the impacts of the same pollutants from industrial or other sources.

Environmental costs of electricity generation
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Table of contents

Executive summary i
Scope i
Results i
1 Introduction 1
2 Private costs of electricity generation 2
2.1 Electricity costs and pricing 2
2.2 Variable costs of generation 2
2.3 Costs of new plants 3
3 Environmental costs 6
3.1 Carbon dioxide (CO2) 6
3.2 Methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) 10
3.3 Sulphur dioxide (SO2) 11
3.4 Nitrogen oxides (NOx) 13
3.5 Total costs 14
3.6 Conclusions 17
Annex A - Carbon costs 19
Annex B - Costs of particulates 22
Glossary of terms 32
References 33