The 2002-2004 project “Externalities of Energy: Extension of accounting framework and Policy Applications” (ExternE-Pol) had the following objectives: Improving, validating and extending the methodology of ExternE; Providing an assessment of new technologies for energy systems; Implementing the methodology in the accession countries of Eastern Europe; and, Creating a permanent internet site for ExternE.
PSI-GaBE was responsible for the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of new technologies; IER contributed to the task. The goal of this analysis was to estimate the associated external costs, by combining detailed life cycle inventories covering full energy systems with damage factors from airborne emissions based on the impact-pathway approach. The external costs were calculated based on average damage factors for emissions in Europe. Sensitivity analyses were performed reflecting on the one hand the uncertainties of impacts and on the other hand the sensitivity to monetary valuation. PSI-GaBE used as basis the energy systems included in the LCI database ecoinvent, with extension to selected new technologies (gas combined cycle, advanced coal, heat pumps).
As illustrated in Figures 1 and 2, current fossil electricity systems exhibit the highest external costs. Introduction of advanced coal and natural gas technologies substantially reduces their external costs, with the gas combined cycle having the best performance; however, they still remain greater by a factor of roughly five to ten than nuclear or future photovoltaic, and ten to twenty than wind. Wood fuelled cogeneration units of the MW size, with associated wood chain, exhibit external costs (using exergy for allocation of the burdens to the co-products) comparable to gas cogeneration or lower, depending on the technology used. Electricity by decentralized small diesel and natural gas cogeneration ranks worse than new oil and natural gas technology, respectively. Greenhouse gas contribution to external costs is prevailing over other species for advanced fossil technologies, using the base case factor of 19 €/tonne CO2.
Figure 1: External costs of current and advanced electricity systems, associated with emissions from the operation of power plant and with the rest of energy chain (Dones et al. 2005).
Figure 2: Contribution percent to external costs of electricity systems by species (Dones et al. 2005).
Rabl A., Spadaro J., Bickel P., Friedrich R., Droste-Franke B., Preiss P., Int Panis L., Diakoulaki D., Markandya A., Hunt A., Scasny M., Melichar J., Havranek M., Maca V., Foltynova H., Dones R., Heck T., Bauer C., Hirschberg S., Kudelko M., Externalities of Energy: Extension of Accounting Framework and Policy Applications – Final Technical Report – Version 2, August 2005. European Commission (2005). Retrieved from http://www.externe.info/expoltec.pdf
Dones R., Heck T., Bauer C., Hirschberg S., Bickel P., Preiss P., Panis L., De Vlieger I., New Energy Technologies – Final Report on Work Package 6 – Release 2, July 2005. ExternE-Pol Project ‘Externalities of Energy: Extension of Accounting Framework and Policy Applications’, European Commission (2005). Retrieved from http://www.externe.info/expolwp6.pdf