This study integrates National Pollutant Inventory emission data and geographical information system (GIS) to analyse the environmental impacts of 197 Australian thermal power stations. ReCiPe 2016 hierarchist method was used to investigate mid and endpoint impacts and found that 93.3% of the total midpoint impacts of fossil fuel sources were attributed to global warming impacts due to high CO2 emissions, whereas those of renewable energy technologies were driven by global warming and terrestrial ecotoxicity impacts with contribution rates of 46.2% and 47.8%, respectively. Brown coal had the highest mid and endpoint impacts per MWh electricity, whereas sewage gas and landfill gas performed the lowest midpoint and endpoint impacts, respectively. Total endpoint impacts of fossil fuel sources were in the order of brown coal > black coal > diesel > natural gas, while sewage gas > bagasse > landfill gas for renewables. It is estimated that total CO2 emissions from Australian electricity generation can be reduced by 30% when renewable electricity generation increases from 17.1% to 50% of the total electricity mix. Since the majority of coal power stations are located in high population areas, the potential impacts in these areas could be a concern.
- Environmental impact assessment
- Electricity generation
- Australian power stations