Environmental impacts

Section 78(2) Elektrizitätswirtschafts- und -organisationgesetz (Electricity Act) 2010 establishes an obligation to state the environmental impact of electricity generation - in particular the CO2 emissions and the radioactive waste caused - on invoices and on advertising and communication materials. The Stromkennzeichnungsverordnung (Labelling Ordinance) 2011 specifies in section5(1) that CO2 emissions must be stated in grams per kWh el (g/kWh) and radioactive waste must be designated in milligrams per kWh el (mg/kWh).

How much electricity generation impacts the environment depends on the energy sources and technologies employed. Regenerative resources capture as much CO2 growing as they release when used to generate power, which is why they are considered CO2 neutral (i.e. they cause emissions of 0 g/kWh electricity). Fossil fuels (natural gas, oil and coal) cause less emissions the better the efficiency (i.e. energy output per energy content input) of the process and the better the relation of carbon to hydrogen in the energy carrier. Thus, an efficient plant causes less emissions than an inefficient one.

E-Control recommends using plant data to calculate environmental impact whenever they are available (and checked). Where this is not the case, reference values for individual energy carriers can be used. These have been calculated based on standard values and are represented below. Also, a study by the Environment Agency Austria (Emissionsfaktoren für Gas-KWK-anlagen bei der Stromkennzeichnung, Emission factors for labelling of electricity generated in gas CHPs, Environment Agency Austria, 2013) calculated new CO2 emission factors in line with the generally accepted Finnish method. These are:

CO2 emission factor Gas CHP...
312 g/kWh ...operated as CHP
332 g/kWh ...operated as CHP and considering condensation operation
347 g/kWh ...in condensation operation only

Based on the calculations of the Environment Agency Austria, E-Control confirms that these values may be used for gas CHPs.

All other technologies and non-Austrian facilities must use the reference values below.
Reference values for environmental impacts of different energy sources
Energy source CO2 emissions
in g/kWh
Radioactive waste
in mg/kWh
Solid or liquid biomass 0 0
Biogas 0 0
Landfill and sewage gas 0 0
Geothermal energy 0 0
Wind 0 0
Solar 0 0
Hydropower 0 0
Natural gas 440 0
Oil and its derivatives 645 0
Coal 882 0
Nuclear energy 0 2,7
Others 650 0
Electricity of unknown origin    
ENTSO-E-Mix hydro share 0 0
ENTSO-E-Mix renewables share 0 0
ENTSO-E-Mix fossil share 840 0
ENTSO-E-Mix nuclear share 0 2,7
ENTSO-E-Mix other share 840 0

Last updated: December 2012
Sources: Environment Agency Austria, Energie-Control Austria

Where the sources are unknown, the ENTSO-E values reproduced on the GO database website are to be used.