A report by the US National Academy of Sciences shows that US coal-fired power plants do over $US62 billion ($au67 billion) in “hidden costs” through environmental damage every year.

These include damage done to crop and timber yields, to buildings and materials, to human health and damage done to recreational activities and through reduced outdoor visibility. They do not include any costs from climate change as a result of burning coal.

The study concluded that the aggregate damages associated with sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter emitted by American coal-fired power plants amounts to $US156 million ($au164 million) per annum on average per plant.

If the same results apply in Australia, the total “hidden cost” of Australia’s coal-fired power plants would be around $5 billion per annum – excluding any damage through global warming and ignoring the much larger effects of burning Australia’s exported coal.

Hazelwood Power Station – said to be the dirtiest power plant in the developed world.
Hazelwood Power Station – said to be the dirtiest power plant in the developed world.