Full Title: Air Emissions Displacement by Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Author(s): Bruce Biewald, Joseph Daniel, Jeremy Fisher, PhD, Patrick Luckow, Alice Napoleon, Nidhi Santen, PhD, and Kenji Takahashi
Publisher(s): Synapse Energy Economics Inc.
Publication Date: 06/2015


Description (excerpt):

Energy efficiency and renewable energy can, and do, reduce air pollution that would otherwise be emitted from power plants on the electricity grid. Although the grid operates as a large integrated network—with hundreds of individual generating units dispatched to meet constantly changing customer demand on a continuous (second‐to‐second) basis—it is possible to understand and estimate the impacts of energy efficiency and renewable energy on grid operations. Typically, energy efficiency and renewable energy displace operations from a mix of generating stations that burn coal, natural gas, and occasionally oil to generate electric power. “Displacement” occurs when a new energy efficiency or renewable energy resource eliminates or reduces the need for megawatt‐hours (MWh) of electricity generation from fossil‐fired power stations. Over a longer period of time, new energy efficiency or renewable energy resources can also defer or altogether avoid the addition of fossil generating units that would otherwise have been built, or expedite the retirement of the least efficient, highest emitting generation resources. By reducing operations, avoiding capacity, or expediting retirements of fossil power stations, additions in energy efficiency and renewable energy resources result in decreased air emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), oxides of nitrogen (NOX), particulate matter, and toxics.