Hidden costs of coal

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The report analyzes the costs of building a new coal power plant near Galati, Romania, by Enel company

Transcript of Hidden costs of coal

  • Hidden Costsof CoalThe consequences of burning coal on peoples health and the economy

    Case StudyPlanned Coal Power Plant

    in Galai, Romnia September 2012

  • Printed on recycled paper

  • This report reveals the hidden costs of burning coal and in particular the coal red powerplant of 800 MW in the Free Trade Zone Galai, a planned investment by the Italian utility ENEL.

    These costs, which will not be at sight and therefore will be avoided by those who generated them, will become unavoidable for the Romanian citizens.

    Supporting new coal power plants will lock the country into a pathway of unsustainable development, with negative consequences for public health, the environment and the national economy for many decades. The government should support a future energy system with high penetration of renewable energy, smart grids and supported by energy eciency measures. This is necessary not only to drastically reduce the social and economic costs of air pollution, but also because it would lead to reduced energy dependency and to the modernization of the Romanian economy with the help of clean and ecient technologies that create more income and jobs for the people.

    Data on the health and economic costs of pollution are based on the methodology used in the European Environment Agency report "Revealing the costs of air pollution from industrial facilities in Europe". The scientic basis of the calculations is documented in the methodology reports of the CAF-CBA project (CAFE-CBA 2005)1. The emission estimates for the Galati power plant are taken from the Environmental Impact Assessment submitted by the project proponent.

    1 CAFE-CBA 2005, was commissioned by EEA and developed by the AEA Group. For more information:http://cafe-cba.org/reports-on-developing-the-cba-framework/



  • Air pollution from the new power plant Galati is estimated to cause a premature death of approximately 40 people a year, for a total loss of 400 life-years per year.

    Overall2, an estimated 45 000 days of sickness are caused per year, resulting in economic losses due to absence from work.

    The total external cost from pollution caused by this single power plant to the society would amount to 235 mil annually, this corresponds to over 9,000 mil for the 40 year lifetime operation of the facility.3

    Next to burning of coal, additional environmental and social costs are caused on the biodiversity, forests, water system by mining, transporting and storing of coal

    New power plant does not mean clean power plant it still produces lots of pollutants, which will add to the existing toxic background of the city.

    2 High chimneys of big capacity thermal power plants facilitate the dispersion of pollution in a manner in which 50% of the health damage will occur on a radius of 200 km from the emitter power plant. In the case of the Galati coal red power plant, this virtual 200km circle includes the cities of Bucharest, Constanta, Tulcea, Calarasi, Ploiesti, Vaslui, Roman, Bacau and Iasi.

    3 Include both CO2 and air pollution cost here as well

    Key Findings


  • As a result of the air pollution, the electricity is being produced at grave cost to the local communities, the environment and the national economy. These costs are not included in the electricity bills we pay as consumers nor the energy producers pay it it gets at the expense of our health, damaged environment and reduced performance of the national economy. This study reveals the real costs of burning coal and in particular the coal red power plant of 800 MW in the Free Trade Zone Galai, a planned investment of the Italian utility ENEL.

    The recent report by the European Environment Agency, "Revealing the True Cost of Air Pollution from industrial facilities in Europe,"4 is trying to express in economic terms, with a use of an updated methodology, the eects of air pollution from around 10,000 European industrial facilities on public health and the environment. The report used available data from the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register5 and concluded that for 2009 the total cost (externalities) amounted to 102-169 billion , or 200-330 on average per European citizen. As expected, most of the pollution and therefore most of the economic damage (66-122 billion ), was caused by the operation of the European power plants, most of them fueled by coal and lignite.

    Romania is the sixth largest industrial polluter in the European Union, following Germany and Poland, which occupy the top two slots in a listing recently published by the European Environment Agency (EEA).6

    The energy sector is a major contributor to environmental degradation in Romania, as a result of the use of burning fossil fuels in power stations. As of 2008, approximately 90% from the pollutant emissions in Romania are caused by the energy sector, including extraction, transport, conversion and combustion of fuels. The sector contributes to atmospheric emissions


    4 Revealing the costs of air pollution from industrial facilities in Europe, November 2011,http://www.eea.europa.eu/pressroom/newsreleases/industrial-air-pollution-cost-europe

    5 http://prtr.ec.europa.eu/

    6 http://energia-online.eu/2011/12/11/romania-is-the-sixth-largest-industrial-polluter-in-the-eu/ 5

    Greenpeace/Bogdan Grecescu Greenpeace/Bogdan Grecescu

  • of signicant quantities of sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, small particles, as well as residual water discharge.7

    Figures for Romania show that cleaner air resulting from the achievement of a higher European target in GHG emissions reduction (30% by 2020) would result in public health benets of between 471 million euro and 1,358 million euro per year from 2020.9

    Economists have been developing methodologies for the last few decades to quantify in monetary terms the so-called externalities. An externality is a cost or benet of an economic activity that is not borne by the actors responsible for the activity and therefore not reected in market prices. Examples include impact of polluting power plant on health and the environ-ment (negative externality) and the benecial impacts of a positive externality (planting a tree in front of your house, it brings benets of less pollution and less noise for others). The main externality caused by air pollution is loss of human life. Greenpeace believes that human life has an inherent value that cannot be measured in monetary terms, and therefore it is important to discuss the external costs also in terms of the number of deaths. However, monetary valuation enables us to compare energy choices to other ways of protecting human life, and often shows that investment in cleaner sources of energy is a very cost-ecient way to improve health and life expectancy. The valuation used in this study is the EEA value of statistical life (VSL) method, which places a cost of two million euros on each avoidable death.

    This report focuses only on the impact of the process of burning coal to produce electricity, however the damage doesnt start and nish with the emissions caused during the very

    According to the EEA, air pollution emissions from Romanian industrial facilities caused in 2009 total health and other external costs of 4,7-10,3 billion euro. The power and heat sector was responsible for 80% of the damages, and the Rovinari, Turceni and Craiova complex alone caused 1.7-3.9 billion euros in damages.8

    7 The Annual Report on the State of the Environment in Romania, 2008, page 278, http://www.anpm.ro/les2/ENERGIA_200910165716890.pdf

    8 Datasheet Revealing the costs of air pollution from industrial facilities in Europe, November 2011 http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/cost-of-air-pollution. Power and heat sector refers to the Main activity category Energy - Thermal power stations and other combustion installations in the E-PRTR classication.

    9 Climate report: How Romania could improve health and save money December 2010 http://www.env-health.org/IMG/pdf/ROMANIA_061210.pdf6

    Greenpeace/Liu Feiyue Greenpeace/Ionu Cepraga

  • combustions. The entire process or chain of custody from mining, long transport and handling and storing the coal, through combustion to waste disposal, and in some cases re-cultivation, has a direct impact on the environment, human health and the social fabric of communities living (not only) near mines. It severely disrupts ecosystems and contaminates water supplies. It emits other greenhouse gases like nitrogen oxide and methane from waste sites. Mining and combustion consume and pollute huge amounts of water energy from coal is the most water demanding from all energy sources.

    Hazardous air pollutants emitted to the atmosphere by coal-red power plants cause a wide range of adverse health eects. As has been described e.g. by the World Health Organization10, European Environmental Agency or by Physicians for Social Responsibility11, the adverse eects include damage to eyes, skin and breathing passages, negative eects on the kidneys, lungs, and nervous system; increasing the risk of cancer; stroke; lower respiratory tract disease and asthma; adversely aect normal lung development in children; and pulmonary and cardiovascular disease. It interferes with lung development, and increases the risk of heart attacks and some neurological diseases.

    Some of the air pollutants are included in the EEA analysis, which quanties their eect on human health, buildings and crops.12 The vast majority of the damage costs estimated by the methodology stems from the loss of human life due to air pollution, and from the damages caused by climate change.

    10 World Health Organization, Air quality and health, Fact sheet N313