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The Definition of External Costs
The scope of the ExternE Project is to value the external costs, i. e. the major impacts of economic activities, both referred to production and consumption. Up to now, valuations of external costs have mainly been applied to energy- related activities such as fuel cycles, and activities related to transport of persons and freight, but the focus is being broadened and the methodology extended to activities such as different industrial processes.
An external cost, also known as an externality, arises when the social or economic activities of one group of persons have an impact on another group and when that impact is not fully accounted, or compensated for, by the first group. Thus, a power station that generates emissions of SO2, causing damage to building materials or human health, imposes an external cost. This is because the impact on the owners of the buildings or on those who suffer damage to their health is not taken into account by the generator of the electricity when deciding on the activities causing the damage. In this example, the environmental costs are "external" because, although they are real costs to these members of society, the owner of the power station is not taking them into account when making decisions. Note that external costs are unintended and result from there being no property rights or markets for these environmental effects. The potential value of the ExternE project therefore lies in valuing external costs in order for those values to be included in the design of policy to correct for the present lack of such property rights and markets.
There are several ways of taking account of the cost to the environment and health, i.e. for 'internalising' external costs. One possibility would be via eco-taxes, i.e. by taxing damaging fuels and technologies according to the external costs caused. For example, if the external cost of producing electricity from coal were to be factored into electricity bills, between 2 and 7 cents per kWh would have to be added to the current price of electricity in the majority of EU Member States. Another solution would be to encourage or subsidise cleaner technologies thus avoiding socio-environmental costs. The Community guidelines on state aid for environmental protection explicitly foresee that EU member states may grant operating aid, calculated on the basis of the external costs avoided, to new plants producing renewable energy. Besides that, in many other widely accepted evaluation methods such as green accounting, life-cycle analysis and technology comparison, the quantitative results of external costs are an important contribution to the overall results.
Each stage in the life cycle of coal—extraction, transport, processing, and combustion—generates a waste stream and carries multiple hazards for health and the environment. These costs are external to the coal industry and are thus often considered “externalities.” We estimate that the life cycle effects of coal and the waste stream generated are costing the U.S. public a third to over one-half of a trillion dollars annually. Many of these so-called externalities are, moreover, cumulative. Accounting for the damages conservatively doubles to triples the price of electricity from coal per kWh generated, making wind, solar, and other forms of nonfossil fuel power generation, along with investments in efficiency and electricity conservation methods, economically competitive.
Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal
Mine collapses, or mine subsidence has a potential for major effects aboveground, which are especially devastating in built-up areas. German underground coal-mining, especially in North Rhine-Westphalia, has damaged thousands of houses, for example.
The mining and burning of coal leads to slag heaps and substantial fly ash sludge storage ponds. Thousands of these all over the world will remain a potential hazard essentially forever, and several failures of the containment of these have had a devastating impact on both the surroundings and water resources nearby.
Nor are the negative effects of coal limited to the environment. Every year, coal miners die from diseases brought on by breathing hazardous coal dust. Black lung disease, also known as coal workers’ lung pneumonoconiosis, is caused by breathing in coal mine dust. If inhaled over an extended period of time, this dust can collect in the lungs and create scar tissue that obstructs airflow to the lungs. Despite laws, miners continue to die from this disease. As well, as coal production increases in an area, so does the incidence of chronic illness in nearby communities among segments of the population not directly involved with the industry.
(and there's more in the link)
Government intervention on fossil fuel pollution
Death and Disease from Power Plants
In 2000 and again in 2004, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force quantifying the deaths and other health affects attributable to the fine particle pollution from power plants. In this newly updated study, CATF examines the progress towards cleaning up one of the nation's leading sources of pollution. The report finds that over 13,000 deaths each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. power plants. This is almost half the impact that our 2004 study found and is reflective of the impact that state and federal actions have had in reducing power plant emissions by roughly half. However, much more still needs to be done.
The interactive map below allows you to learn of the risk in your state or county simply by clicking on the Google Map below. You can click on your state, zoom into your county, or click on a power plant to view a variety of health impacts and other data. A new tool also available is a downloadable Google Earth file, which once downloaded and launched in Google Earth, will allow you to explore a whole host of data and health impacts around the country.
The tabulation of the externalities in total and converted to 2008 US$ is given in Table 3 and normalized to cents per kWh of coal-generated electricity in Table 4. Our best estimate for the externalities related to coal is $345.3 billion (range: $175.2 bn to $523.3 bn). On a per-kWh basis this is 17.84¢/kWh, ranging from 9.42 ¢/kWh to 26.89 ¢/kWh.
Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal
The Scherrer numbers - which are not identical with the ExternE numbers - are the numbers I will use to estimate by calculation, the cost in destruction of health and the environment, what the cost of coal is. According to these numbers, conventional coal costs 7.5 - 13.6 eurocents/kwh for health and environmental distruction. Coal IGCC (CHP) without sequestration - these kinds of plants exist on a pilot, but not an industrial scale, cost 2.4 - 3.0 eurocents/kwh in environmental and health destruction. Coal IGCC (CHP) with CO2 scrubber is estimated to cost between 1.1 - 1.4 eurocents/kwh in environmental and health destruction, and nuclear costs 0.5 cents/kwh in destruction to the environment.
Note that the external costs for coal exceed the internal costs. If you are free to dump wastes like carbon dioxide and other noxious materials into the environment without charge, coal in the United States - ignoring any exchange rate differences between euros and dollars - runs between 2 cents/kwh and 4 cents/kwh in general.
For the purposes of these evaluations, I am going to choose, somewhat arbitrarily, a mid sized nuclear power plant, the Brunswick Nuclear Station in North Carolina Unit 2 as a "typical" nuclear power plant. Some nuclear stations are smaller and some are bigger. The Brunswick Nuclear Station came on line in 1974 and is licensed for a 40 year life span. It is an 811 MWe power plant. Unquestionably, as it is an excellent performer, as many other nuclear utilities are doing, the owners will apply and receive a 20 year extenstion on the plant's life, giving it a lifetime of 60 years.
In 2003 the Brunswick Nuclear station produced 7.0 million megawatt-hours or 7.0 billion kilowatt-hours. We are now in a posistion with the Scherrer numbers what the cost, in environmental and health destruction would be if we were to replace it with a magical theoretical IGCC coal plant with a sequestration plant, a IGCC plant without sequestration, and with conventional coal.
If the Brunswick Nuclear station is typical, it costs $35,000,000 per year in health and environmental destruction in a year of operation like 2003. A putative IGCC plant with sequestration on the other hand would do twice as much environmental and health damage, about $70,000,000 dollars worth. A putative IGCC plant without sequestration - the only kind that has ever been built - would incur charges of $275,000,000. Thus the cost in environmental destruction for replacing just one nuclear plant with an IGCC coal plant would be about $238,000,000 million dollars per year beyond the cost of the nuclear plant.
Over the sixty year lifetime of the nuclear station, these costs again for one plant to more than 16 billion dollars in environmental and health destruction..
The United States operates more than 100 nuclear plants. If the Brunswick station is typical of them, replacing them all with IGCC coal plants without sequestration would amount to and additional cost 1.4 trillion dollars over a sixty year plant life. With sequestration the additional cost would be "only" $210 billion dollars. Of course no one really knows where one might sequester 60 years worth of such carbon dioxide. The concept is pure wishful thinking.
The world operates 441 nuclear plants. If the Brunswick Station is typcial, the replacement of these plants would cost the world 7.2 trillion dollars in additional destruction of health and the environment over and beyond the cost of the nuclear stations.
- Criminalization: As with prostitution in some countries, addictive drugs, commercial fraud, and many types of environmental and public health laws.
- Civil Tort law: For example, class action by smokers, various product liability suits.
- Government provision: As with lighthouses, education, and national defense.
- Pigovian taxes or subsidies intended to redress economic injustices or imbalances.
A Pigovian tax is a tax imposed that is equal in value to the negative externality. The result is that the market outcome would be reduced to the efficient amount. A side effect is that revenue is raised for the government, reducing the amount of distortionary taxes that the government must impose elsewhere. Economists prefer Pigovian taxes and subsidies as being the least intrusive and most efficient method to resolve externalities.
1. Comprehensive comparative analyses of life cycle costs of all electricity generation technologies and practices are needed to guide the development of future energy policies.
2. Begin phasing out coal and phasing in cleanly powered smart grids, using place-appropriate alternative energy sources.
3. A healthy energy future can include electric vehicles, plugged into cleanly powered smart grids; and healthy cities initiatives, including green buildings, roof-top gardens, public transport, and smart growth.
4. Alternative industrial and farming policies are needed for coal-field regions, to support the manufacture and installation of solar, wind, small-scale hydro, and smart grid technologies. Rural electric co-ops can help in meeting consumer demands.
5. We must end MTR mining, reclaim all MTR sites and abandoned mine lands, and ensure that local water sources are safe for consumption.
6. Funds are needed for clean enterprises, reclamation, and water treatment.
7. Fund-generating methods include:
a. maintaining revenues from the workers’ compensation coal tax;
b. increasing coal severance tax rates;
c. increasing fees on coal haul trucks and trains;
d. reforming the structure of credits and taxes to remove misaligned incentives;
e. reforming federal and state subsidies to incentivize clean technology infrastructure.
8. To transform our energy infrastructure, we must realign federal and state rules, regulations, and rewards to stimulate manufacturing of and markets for clean and efficient energy systems. Such a transformation would be beneficial for our health, for the environment, for sustained economic health, and would contribute to stabilizing the global climate.
Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal
Coal underlies 37,000 square miles of Illinois --
about 65 percent of the state's surface. Estimated
recoverable coal reserves in Illinois (38 billion tons)
account for almost one-eighth of total U.S. coal
reserves and one-quarter of the nation's bituminous
coal reserves. Illinois' coal reserves contain more Btu
than the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
A means of internalizing all the costs of energy generation must be created, so the plant owner actually pays for the damages it causes, rather than the public. The end effect of this will mean that truly cheaper sources of energy such as wind, natural gas combined cycle, nuclear and cogeneration will take over, saving the US (or Europe for that matter) hundreds of billions of dollars in environmental remediation and health-care year.
If solar radiation is converted to electricity at an efficiency of 10% (already exceeded today in commercial modules), then a mere 0.7% of the world’s desert area (84,300 km2) would be required to generate the total 2005 world electricity consumption of about 18,500 TWh
It is sometimes claimed that wind turbines are noisy or pose a large hazard to birds. Neither claim is true, as can be seen from the indicative noise levels for wind turbines and various activities given in Table 3.23, and from the estimated mortality rates for birds in the US due to various human-related causes given in Table 3.24. The noise from a wind turbine at a distance of 350 m is similar to the background noise in a typical home. Estimated mortality rates due to modern wind turbines are well below one bird per turbine per year (modern turbines have a solid rather than lattice support structure, and so are unattractive as nesting sites, while the rotation rate is smaller the larger the turbine). By contrast, domesticated cats, road vehicles and telecommunication towers are each estimated to kill several 10s of millions of birds per year in the US, and estimates of the bird mortality due to collisions with buildings in the US are as high as 1 billion per year.
these charts were obviously created by 'green' energy advocates,
Nuclear power has to win any 'footprint' based comparison by default, after all it's millions times more energetic than anything chemical.
I am sorry but I believe that part of the reason for the economy being in it's current condition is due to too much regulation. Until TPTB allow something differnet to hit the market, then I say burn it. It is already regulated to death. I live in Illinois and I know that we could use the jobs. We have the reserves, but not the jobs, due to all of the regulation.
Until TPTB allow something differnet to hit the market,
They must have paid a consultant millions to come up with this .
Geo-thermal , hydraulic and nuclear generations combined and averaged , average 6 cents per kilowatt hour to generate
The scrubber and precipitator technology is here right now to make the burning of coal very clean but there is no mention of that and no mention of the valuable byproducts derived from burning mettalurgical coal .
Ever though 70% of France is powered by nuclear and 255 nuclear power plants are under construction or on the planning boards r
ow the leftista Obamamnaut enviro-loons
struck the death blow for nuclear power generation in America by shutting the Yukka mountain storage facility that has been under construction for two decades
To equalize with solar and wind energy prices must increase by 10 times while the enviro impact is a total disaster with solar farms covering all of the deserts and windmills across every plain
American Bird Conservancy supports wind power when it is bird-smart, and believes that birds and wind power can co-exist if the industry is held to mandatory standards that protect birds. ABC has established a petition for concerned members of the public to lend their support to the campaign for bird-smart wind.
Originally posted by itsawild1
all you teens and people in your twenties can laugh but YOU WILL NOT SEE MY AGE OF 55. your world will be gone, you will be living in a wasteland soon-laugh at global warming, gmo food, poullution all you dummies want, i laugh at you .-HA HA HA HA!!! We protested viet-nam in my day and stopped that ugly war. What have you young people today fighting for???? Nothing-so you will die simple as that if you dont get off you butts and change the corporate america. go protest like us wisconsinites-- take back control of your country and world or DIE HORRIBLE DEATHS-
Originally posted by alienreality
I have been wondering how they plan to tax all the volcanoes popping up in last 6 years or so and beating out what all the coal burning furnaces have done since the dinosaur age..