Revealed: The Cost of Electricity from Coal
Source: West Cape News (2/23/11)
"Generating electricity from coal costs U.S. over $500 billion/year."
The study tracks the multiple health, environmental and climate-change impacts of coal from its source at the mine to its combustion at the power plant.
Epstein was reported as stating the Center "examined the life cycle of coal production to find hidden costs, or costs that occur when the activity of one agent affects the well-being of another agent outside of any type of market mechanism."
The full study is expected to be published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences later this month.
Although the study is restricted to the U.S., it has implications for South Africa, which generates over 90% of its electricity from coal and is in the process of setting up three new coal-fired plants at a cost of R75 billion.
Figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that the U.S. uses just over 1 billion tons of coal per year.
According to the study, air pollution emissions cost $187.5 billion; mercury emission impacts reach $29.3 billion; and greenhouse gas emissions (and accompanying climate change effects) from coal-fired plants costs between $61.7 and $205.8 billion.
Other costs included up to $10 billion from land disturbances, impacts from toxic spills, declines in property values, tourism loss and crop damage, the study noted.