The Social Cost of Electricity

The Social Cost of Electricity

Scenarios and Policy Implications

The Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei series on Economics, the Environment and Sustainable Development

Edited by Anil Markandya, Andrea Bigano and Roberto Porchia

This book reports and rationalizes the state-of-the-art concerning the social costs of electricity generation. Social costs are assessed by adding to the private generation costs, the external costs associated with damages to human health, the environment, crops, materials, and those related to the consequences of climate change. The authors consider the evolution of these costs up to 2030 for major electricity generating technologies and, using these estimates, evaluate policy options for external cost internalization, providing quantitative scenarios by country and primary fuel for 2010, 2020 and 2030. While mainly focusing on European countries, the book also examines the situation in key emerging economies such as China, India, Brazil and Turkey.

Chapter 1: External Costs

Luke Brander, El Hadji Fall, Rainer Friedrich, Onno Kuik, Kristin Magnussen and Stefan Hirschberg

Subjects: economics and finance, energy economics, environmental economics, environment, environmental economics


Luke Brander, El Hadji Fall, Rainer Friedrich, Stefan Hirschberg, Onno Kuik, Kristin Magnussen, Ståle Navrud, Philipp Preiss, Ari Rabl and Bob van der Zwaan 1.1 EXTERNALITIES AND EXTERNAL COSTS Externalities exist in the form of external costs and external benefits. External costs occur when an economic subject causes a loss in welfare to another one and does not compensate this change. A compensation for this change in welfare due to external costs would eliminate the market imperfection caused by externalities. This procedure is called internalisation of externalities because external costs are considered in market mechanisms. In a situation where all externalities are internalised there is no longer any relevant externality, although there are, of course, still emissions and damages. For example, a cost–benefit analysis requires the estimation of the marginal damage costs (MDC) and marginal avoidance costs (MAC). These values should be equal in order to determine the optimum instruments and, therefore, the optimum total emissions. A reasonable and practicable dimension which enables the comparison of costs and benefits are monetary values. Therefore, the impact pathway approach is used in order to estimate the costs of emissions and benefits of emission reduction. The costs reveal the preferences of the society, that is the willingness to pay to avoid the risk of these damages. With this assessment method, a general path from emissions to the external costs and benefits in the reduction of emissions is followed to estimate them as transparently, consistently and comprehensively as possible. External Costs per...

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