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Benefits of Wind Energy Under the Consideration of External Cost


In general, the benefits of wind energy are avoided emissions and avoided external costs as compared with conventional, mainly fossil-fuel based, electricity generation. Figure 4.1 (comparison of social costs of different electricity generation technologies) indicates that a kWh of wind energy (as for renewable energy in general) presents a negligible external cost in comparison with fossil-fuel based power systems. This fact illustrates the social and environmental advantages of wind energy and other renewables over conventional energy systems. Consequently, it is desirable to increase wind energy and other renewables in the electricity supply systems.

In recent years, the implementation of a variety of different renewable promotion instruments in Europe has resulted in significant amounts of renewable electricity generation, particularly wind generation. Without this, the corresponding amount of electricity generation would have been from conventional power plants. This means that renewable electricity generation has already displaced conventional electricity generation technologies and, subsequently, avoided significant amounts of emissions. Therefore, the external costs of total electricity generation have decreased as compared with the situation without any renewable electricity generation.

In the empirical analyses of avoided emissions and external costs in the EU-27 Member States (see 'The EcoSense Computer Model' below), country-specific results are presented according to the quantity of external costs that have been already avoided due to wind generation in the different EU-27 Member States. Moreover, in subsequent sections in Chapter 5, the avoided emissions and avoided external costs for different scenarios of wind deployment in the electricity systems of the EU-27 Member States up to 2020 and 2030 are presented.



Although wind energy is a clean technology, mainly due to the avoidance of air pollutant emissions, it is not totally free of impacts on the environment and human health. However, wind energy has very few environmental impacts in its operation. The most commonly discussed impacts on people are acoustic noise and visual intrusion. Visual intrusion of the turbines along with ancillary systems in the landscape and noise are considered as amenity impacts of the technology. Other impacts include indirect pollution from the production of components and construction of the turbine; the collision of birds in flight with turbines and bird behavioural disturbance from blade avoidance; the impacts of wind turbine construction on terrestrial ecosystems; and accidents affecting workers in manufacturing, construction and operation. A comprehensive overview and discussion of these kinds of wind energy externalities is conducted in previous sections of this Part.


>> Methodology for the calculation of external costs of different electricity generation technologies based on the EcoSense model


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