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Sources of energy and the environment


  • Spash, Clive L.
  • Young, Andrew


Energy from fossil fuels have become dominant in the industrialised and industrialising economies of the world. However, fossil fuels are also recognised as heavily polluting and responsible for a range of modern environmental and health problems. Nuclear power is a similar conventional energy source in that it relies upon depletion of a limited stock resource and is associated with a range of social and environmental problems. However, the alternative energy sources relying upon flow resources, or income, available with today's technology, have been regarded as too expensive to bring into production. This paper explores the full range of options and their environmental impacts. We emphasise energy capital maintenance and avoidance of pollution as key issues. In looking at the environmental impacts of each energy source in turn our aim is to explore the fallacy of the "too costly to implement" argument. We expose a qualitative difference between the energy sources. That is the comparison between largely known local, aesthetic and physical impacts of renewable energy and the unknown, regional and global long term impacts from conventional energy sources. This is a paper from the Ecological Economics discussion paper series edited by Clive L. Spash and run from Stirling University from 1994 to 1996. This particular paper was later published as a book chapter (Spash and Young 1995). Spash, C.L. & A. Young. 1995. Environmental imperatives and renewable sources of energy. In The New Global Oil Market: Understanding Energy Issues in the World Economy, ed. S. Shojai, 159-172. Westport, Connecticut, Praeger.

Suggested Citation

  • Spash, Clive L. & Young, Andrew, 1994. "Sources of energy and the environment," MPRA Paper 38272, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:38272

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. DiPippo, Ronald, 1991. "Geothermal energy Electricity generation and environmental impact," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(8), pages 798-807, October.
    2. Charters, William W. S., 1991. "Solar energy: Current status and future prospects," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(8), pages 738-741, October.
    3. Spash, Clive L. & Hanley, Nick, 1994. "Cost-benefit analysis and the greenhouse effect," MPRA Paper 38666, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Sims, Geoffrey P., 1991. "Hydroelectric energy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(8), pages 776-786, October.
    5. Gipe, Paul, 1991. "Wind energy comes of age California and Denmark," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(8), pages 756-767, October.
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    More about this item


    Energy; renenwables; non-renewables; pollution; coal; fossil fuels; nuclear power; wind; solar; wave; ocean; hydroelectric; biomass; geothermal;

    JEL classification:

    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • Q57 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Ecological Economics


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