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Title: Potential air quality benefits from increased solar photovoltaic electricity generation in the Eastern United States

Abstract

We evaluate how fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and precursor emissions could be reduced if 17% of electricity generation was replaced with solar photovoltaics (PV) in the Eastern United States. Electricity generation is simulated using GridView, then used to scale electricity-sector emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX) from an existing gridded inventory of air emissions. This approach offers a novel method to leverage advanced electricity simulations with state-of-the-art emissions inventories, without necessitating recalculation of emissions for each facility. The baseline and perturbed emissions are input to the Community Multiscale Air Quality Model (CMAQ version 4.7.1) for a full accounting of time- and space-varying air quality changes associated with the 17% PV scenario. These results offer a high-value opportunity to evaluate the reduced-form AVoided Emissions and geneRation Tool (AVERT), while using AVERT to test the sensitivity of results to changing base-years and levels of solar integration. We find that average NOX and SO2 emissions across the region decrease 20% and 15%, respectively. PM2.5 concentrations decreased on average 4.7% across the Eastern U.S., with nitrate (NO3-) PM2.5 decreasing 3.7% and sulfate (SO42-) PM2.5 decreasing 9.1%. In the five largest cities in the region, we find that the most polluted daysmore » show the most significant PM2.5 decrease under the 17% PV generation scenario, and that the greatest benefits are accrued to cities in or near the Ohio River Valley. We find summer health benefits from reduced PM2.5 exposure estimated as 1424 avoided premature deaths (95% Confidence Interval (CI): 284 deaths, 2 732 deaths) or a health savings of $13.1 billion (95% CI: $0.6 billion, $43.9 billion) These results highlight the potential for renewable energy as a tool for air quality managers to support current and future health-based air quality regulations.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Solar Energy Technologies Office (EE-4S)
OSTI Identifier:
1414898
Report Number(s):
NREL/JA-6A20-66926
Journal ID: ISSN 1352-2310
DOE Contract Number:
AC36-08GO28308
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Atmospheric Environment (1994); Journal Volume: 175; Journal Issue: C
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
14 SOLAR ENERGY; 29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY, AND ECONOMY; solar energy; air quality; particulate matter; PM2.5; electricity; renewable energy; Community Multiscale Air Quality Model (CMAQ); GridView; co-benefits; public health; Environmental Benefits Mapping and Analysis Program (BenMAP); AVoided Emissions and geneRation Tool (AVERT)

Citation Formats

Abel, David, Holloway, Tracey, Harkey, Monica, Rrushaj, Arber, Brinkman, Greg, Duran, Phillip, Janssen, Mark, and Denholm, Paul. Potential air quality benefits from increased solar photovoltaic electricity generation in the Eastern United States. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2017.11.049.
Abel, David, Holloway, Tracey, Harkey, Monica, Rrushaj, Arber, Brinkman, Greg, Duran, Phillip, Janssen, Mark, & Denholm, Paul. Potential air quality benefits from increased solar photovoltaic electricity generation in the Eastern United States. United States. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2017.11.049.
Abel, David, Holloway, Tracey, Harkey, Monica, Rrushaj, Arber, Brinkman, Greg, Duran, Phillip, Janssen, Mark, and Denholm, Paul. Thu . "Potential air quality benefits from increased solar photovoltaic electricity generation in the Eastern United States". United States. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2017.11.049.
@article{osti_1414898,
title = {Potential air quality benefits from increased solar photovoltaic electricity generation in the Eastern United States},
author = {Abel, David and Holloway, Tracey and Harkey, Monica and Rrushaj, Arber and Brinkman, Greg and Duran, Phillip and Janssen, Mark and Denholm, Paul},
abstractNote = {We evaluate how fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and precursor emissions could be reduced if 17% of electricity generation was replaced with solar photovoltaics (PV) in the Eastern United States. Electricity generation is simulated using GridView, then used to scale electricity-sector emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX) from an existing gridded inventory of air emissions. This approach offers a novel method to leverage advanced electricity simulations with state-of-the-art emissions inventories, without necessitating recalculation of emissions for each facility. The baseline and perturbed emissions are input to the Community Multiscale Air Quality Model (CMAQ version 4.7.1) for a full accounting of time- and space-varying air quality changes associated with the 17% PV scenario. These results offer a high-value opportunity to evaluate the reduced-form AVoided Emissions and geneRation Tool (AVERT), while using AVERT to test the sensitivity of results to changing base-years and levels of solar integration. We find that average NOX and SO2 emissions across the region decrease 20% and 15%, respectively. PM2.5 concentrations decreased on average 4.7% across the Eastern U.S., with nitrate (NO3-) PM2.5 decreasing 3.7% and sulfate (SO42-) PM2.5 decreasing 9.1%. In the five largest cities in the region, we find that the most polluted days show the most significant PM2.5 decrease under the 17% PV generation scenario, and that the greatest benefits are accrued to cities in or near the Ohio River Valley. We find summer health benefits from reduced PM2.5 exposure estimated as 1424 avoided premature deaths (95% Confidence Interval (CI): 284 deaths, 2 732 deaths) or a health savings of $13.1 billion (95% CI: $0.6 billion, $43.9 billion) These results highlight the potential for renewable energy as a tool for air quality managers to support current and future health-based air quality regulations.},
doi = {10.1016/j.atmosenv.2017.11.049},
journal = {Atmospheric Environment (1994)},
number = C,
volume = 175,
place = {United States},
year = {Thu Feb 01 00:00:00 EST 2018},
month = {Thu Feb 01 00:00:00 EST 2018}
}