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The costs of failure: A preliminary assessment of major energy accidents, 1907-2007


  • Sovacool, Benjamin K.


A combination of technical complexity, tight coupling, speed, and human fallibility contribute to the unexpected failure of large-scale energy technologies. This study offers a preliminary assessment of the social and economic costs of major energy accidents from 1907 to 2007. It documents 279 incidents that have been responsible for $41 billion in property damage and 182,156 deaths. Such disasters highlight an often-ignored negative externality to energy production and use, and emphasize the need for further research.

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  • Sovacool, Benjamin K., 2008. "The costs of failure: A preliminary assessment of major energy accidents, 1907-2007," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 1802-1820, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:36:y:2008:i:5:p:1802-1820

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    2. Liao, Shu-Yi & Tseng, Wei-Chun & Chen, Chi-Chung, 2010. "Eliciting public preference for nuclear energy against the backdrop of global warming," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(11), pages 7054-7069, November.
    3. Schaeffer, Roberto & Borba, Bruno S.M.C. & Rathmann, Régis & Szklo, Alexandre & Castelo Branco, David A., 2012. "Dow Jones sustainability index transmission to oil stock market returns: A GARCH approach," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 933-943.
    4. Peter M. Schwarz & Joseph A. Cochran, 2013. "Renaissance Or Requiem: Is Nuclear Energy Cost Effective In A Post-Fukushima World?," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 31(4), pages 691-707, October.
    5. Hong, Sanghyun & Bradshaw, Corey J.A. & Brook, Barry W., 2014. "South Korean energy scenarios show how nuclear power can reduce future energy and environmental costs," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 569-578.
    6. Huhtala, Anni & Remes, Piia, 2017. "Quantifying the social costs of nuclear energy: Perceived risk of accident at nuclear power plants," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 320-331.
    7. repec:eee:reensy:v:113:y:2013:i:c:p:94-111 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Huhtala, Anni & Remes, Piia, 2016. "Dimming Hopes for Nuclear Power: Quantifying the Social Costs of Perceptions of Risks," Working Papers 57, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    9. Liu, Jiming & Shi, Benyun, 2012. "Towards understanding the robustness of energy distribution networks based on macroscopic and microscopic evaluations," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 318-327.
    10. van der Vleuten, Erik & Lagendijk, Vincent, 2010. "Transnational infrastructure vulnerability: The historical shaping of the 2006 European "Blackout"," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 2042-2052, April.
    11. Lina Escobar Rangel & François Lévêque, 2012. "How did Fukushima-Daiichi core meltdown change the probability of nuclear accidents?," Working Papers hal-00740684, HAL.
    12. Scholtens, Bert & Boersen, Arieke, 2011. "Stocks and energy shocks: The impact of energy accidents on stock market value," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 1698-1702.
    13. Nabeshima, Kaoru, 2011. "Growth strategies in a greener world," IDE Discussion Papers 314, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
    14. repec:bbz:fcpbbr:v:10:y:2013:i:2:p:95-119 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Sovacool, Benjamin K., 2009. "Energy policy and cooperation in Southeast Asia: The history, challenges, and implications of the trans-ASEAN gas pipeline (TAGP) network," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 2356-2367, June.
    16. Mendes, Pietro A.S. & Hall, Jeremy & Matos, Stelvia & Silvestre, Bruno, 2014. "Reforming Brazil׳s offshore oil and gas safety regulatory framework: Lessons from Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 443-453.
    17. Lars Lindholt & Solveig Glomsrød, 2017. "Phasing out coal and phasing in renewables – good or bad news for arctic gas producers?," Discussion Papers 856, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    18. Shih, Yi-Hsuan & Shi, Nian-Xun & Tseng, Chao-Heng & Pan, Shu-Yuan & Chiang, Pen-Chi, 2016. "Socioeconomic costs of replacing nuclear power with fossil and renewable energy in Taiwan," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 369-381.
    19. Burgherr, Peter & Hirschberg, Stefan, 2014. "Comparative risk assessment of severe accidents in the energy sector," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 74(S1), pages 45-56.
    20. Danzer, Alexander M. & Danzer, Natalia, 2016. "The long-run consequences of Chernobyl: Evidence on subjective well-being, mental health and welfare," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 47-60.
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