, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 352–360 | Cite as

Nutrient Abatement Potential and Abatement Costs of Waste Water Treatment Plants in the Baltic Sea Region

  • Sami Hautakangas
  • Markku Ollikainen
  • Kari Aarnos
  • Pirjo Rantanen


We assess the physical potential to reduce nutrient loads from waste water treatment plants in the Baltic Sea region and determine the costs of abating nutrients based on the estimated potential. We take a sample of waste water treatment plants of different size classes and generalize its properties to the whole population of waste water treatment plants. Based on a detailed investment and operational cost data on actual plants, we develop the total and marginal abatement cost functions for both nutrients. To our knowledge, our study is the first of its kind; there is no other study on this issue which would take advantage of detailed data on waste water treatment plants at this extent. We demonstrate that the reduction potential of nutrients is huge in waste water treatment plants. Increasing the abatement in waste water treatment plants can result in 70 % of the Baltic Sea Action Plan nitrogen reduction target and 80 % of the Baltic Sea Action Plan phosphorus reduction target. Another good finding is that the costs of reducing both nutrients are much lower than previously thought. The large reduction of nitrogen would cost 670 million euros and of phosphorus 150 million euros. We show that especially for phosphorus the abatement costs in agriculture would be much higher than in waste water treatment plants.


Nutrients Abatement potential Abatement costs 



This paper is a part of the project “Cost-efficient instruments for the Baltic Sea Protection” funded by the Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Bonus project “ProBalt: Improving societal conditions for the Baltic Sea protection” funded by the Academy of Finland. Ollikainen thanks Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation for a personal grant. The authors are very grateful for the high professional help by Ari Niemelä and research assistance by Inka Ruotsalainen. Constructive comments by two anonymous verifiers are gratefully acknowledged.

Supplementary material

13280_2013_435_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (668 kb)
Supplementary material (PDF 667 kb)


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sami Hautakangas
    • 1
  • Markku Ollikainen
    • 1
  • Kari Aarnos
    • 1
  • Pirjo Rantanen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Economics and ManagementUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringAalto UniversityEspooFinland

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