Keywords: environmental impacts, health impacts, externalities, damage costs, hydroelectricity
Health and environmental impacts of the hydroelectric fuel cycle
The impacts on health and the environment and the associated damage costs caused by the hydroelectric fuel cycle are assessed in this paper. To this purpose, a large hydroelectric project along the Nestos river in northern Greece has been selected as an example. A large number of impacts have been identified. Occupational accidents, impacts on agriculture and forests, noise produced during the operation of the plant, impacts on biodiversity due to the physical presence of the dams, and alterations to the local water balance are the most important of them. The results of the analysis show that the major contributors to the damage cost of the hydroelectric fuel cycle are impacts on biodiversity and fatal occupational accidents, especially those that occur during the construction phase of the project. Nonetheless hydroelectricity is an environmentally-friendly energy source that exhibits lower damage values compared to other electricity generating technologies.