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In general, the benefits of wind energy are the avoided emissions and external costs from fossil-fuel based electricity generation. The evaluation of external costs includes damage from: air pollutant emissions, the anthropogenic greenhouse effect as resulting from CO2 and other emissions, and SO2 and NOx.
To analyse the environmental and health benefits of the use of wind energy, we need to know the specific emissions of fossil-fuel based electricity generation replaced by wind energy. These can be derived by dividing the absolute emissions produced by a type of fossil-fuel in kilotonnes of CO2 per year used for electricity generation in a country, by the amount of electricity generated from this fuel in kWh per year (see section 4.5.3 in detail).
Figure 5.1. Fossil-fuel Based Electricity Generation Replaceable/Avoidable by Wind (and other renewable electricity generation technologies) in the EU27 Member States in 2007.
Derived from Figure 5.1, Figure 5.2 presents the total emissions (CO2, SO2, NOx) replaceable/avoidable by Wind (and other renewable electricity generation technologies) in the EU27 Member States in 2007.
Figure 5.2. Total Emissions (CO2, SO2, NOx) Replaceable/Avoidable by Wind (and other renewable electricity generation technologies) in the EU27 Member States in 2007.
The previous section presents the empirical data on the replaceable/avoidable amount of fossil-fuel based electricity generation. The following section shows the amount of already replaced/avoided fossil-fuel based electricity generation by wind energy in the EU27 Member States in 2007 . The annual wind generation in each of the EU27 Member States in 2007 has to be studied first (see Figure 5.3).
Figure 5.3. Annual wind generation (TWh/yr) in the EU27 Member States in 2007
Figure 5.3 clearly indicates that already a significant share of EU Member States have implemented a considerable amount of wind energy in 2007. On top of the list are Germany and Spain (around 39 TWh/yr annual wind generation each). Denmark (8 TWh/yr) and UK (6.3 TWh/yr) are following. Also, other EU Member States like Portugal, Italy, The Netherlands, and France are aiming at the 5 TWh/yr benchmark of annual wind generation very fast. However, there still existed many EU27 Member States with negligible wind penetration in 2007.
The total CO2, SO2, and NOx emissions from fossil-fuel based electricity generation having been already avoided by wind energy in the different EU27 Member States in 2007 are presented in Figure 5.4.
The 2007 results in Figure 5.4 take into account the individual characteristics of conventional electricity generation on country-level (e.g. age structure and efficiency of the fossil-fuel power plants) in terms of the specific average emissions (CO2, SO2, NOx) from fuel based electricity generation; on the one hand (see Figure 4.5), and annual wind generation in 2007, on the other hand (see Figure 5.3). Not surprisingly, the total avoided emissions in 2007 perfectly correlate with annual wind generation in the different EU27 Member States.
Figure 5.4. Total emissions (CO2, SO2, NOx) from fossil-fuel based electricity generation already avoided by wind energy in the different EU27 Member States in 2007
So far, empirical results have been presented for each of the EU27 Member States on fossil-fuel based electricity generation replaceable/avoidable by wind energy (and other renewable generation technologies) in each of the EU27 Member States in 2007. The factors involved are:
These analyses provide the basis for the final step to determine the external costs of fossil-fuel based electricity generation and the already avoided external costs of wind generation in the EU27 Member States in 2007.
The external costs resulting from air pollutants such as SO2 and NOx (calculated by EcoSense; see
Because air pollutants can damage a large number of different receptors, calculations of external costs will generally include a large number of types of damage, which tend to be restricted to the most important impacts to allow a calculation of external costs with a limited resource input. At present, EcoSense includes the following receptors: humans (health), crops, materials (in buildings, etc.), forests and ecosystems, with monetary valuation only included for human health, crops and materials. For each of them a bandwidth (high, medium and low values) is determined. There are two approaches to evaluating effects on human health: value of statistical life (VSL) and years of life lost (YOLL), see corresponding footnote in section
Unfortunately, outputs from the EcoSense model used in this analysis do not provide a calculation based on the VSL approach. As pointed out above, VSL may lead to substantially larger external costs than the YOLL approach which is applied by the EcoSense model. Results of former ExternE studies estimate external costs based on both approaches. These resulted in VSL results of approximately three times more than with YOLL. As the present version of EcoSense does not calculate VSL values, the EcoSense results on human health effects based on the YOLL approach have been scaled. This has been done with a factor of one for low-damage cost estimates calculated for human health, a factor of two for medium cost estimates and a factor of three for high estimates.Figure 5.5 finally presents the results on the external costs of conventional fossil-fuel based electricity generation in each of the EU27 Member States in 2007 (high/average/low values). Similar to the specific emissions of fossil-fuel based electricity generation presented in Figure 4.5, there is a noticeable difference between external costs within different EU27 Member States. Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia are those Member States with the highest external costs of fossil-fuel based electricity generation (average values: 20-25 €cent2007/kWh). But also Estonia and Greece reach nearly 20 €cent2007/kWh (average values for external costs). On the contrary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Finland, Sweden and The Netherlands are characterised by external costs of fossil-fuel based electricity generation below 5 €cent2007/kWh (average values for external costs), see Figure 5.5.
Figure 5.5. Bandwidth of Specific External Costs (€cent2007/kWh) of Fossil-fuel Based Electricity Generation in the EU27 Member States in 2007.
By combining the avoidable external costs of fossil-fuel based electricity generation with the amount of electricity produced by wind energy, the total amount of already-avoided external costs can be calculated for the year 2007. Figure 5.6 presents the corresponding results of already avoided external costs by wind generation in each of the EU27 Member States.
Figure 5.6. Bandwidth of Avoided External Costs (€m2007/yr) of Fossil-fuel Based Electricity Generation in the EU27 Member States in 2007.
In 2007, in the EU27 region around €b200710.2 on external costs have been avoided by wind generation in total (summing up the average values in each of the EU27 Member States shown in Figure 5.6 and 5.7). The following EU Member States are mainly responsible for the majority shares of this already impressive number of €b200510.2 on already avoided external costs: Spain (€b20073.968), Germany (€b20073.027), Denmark (€b20070.518), UK (€b20070.472), Greece (€b20070.400), Portugal (€b20070.388) and Italy (€b20070.377).
Figure 5.7 finally presents the absolute values of already avoided external costs (average values in €m2007/yr) by wind generation in each of the EU27 Member States in 2007.
Figure 5.7. Distribution of Avoided External Costs (Average Values in €m2007/yr) by Wind Generation between the EU27 Member States in 2007.
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