Accelerated Reduction in \(SO_2\) Emissions from the U.S. Power Sector Triggered by Changing Prices of Natural Gas
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CitationLu, Xi, Michael B. McElroy, Gang Wu, and Chris P. Nielsen. 2012. Accelerated reduction in \(SO_2\) emissions from the U.S. power sector triggered by changing prices of natural gas. Environmental Science and Technology 46(14): 7882-7889.
AbstractEmissions of sulfur dioxide (\(SO_2\)) from the U.S. power sector decreased by 24% in 2009 relative to 2008. The Logarithmic Mean Divisia Index (LMDI) approach was applied to isolate the factors responsible for this decrease. It is concluded that 15% of the decrease can be attributed to the drop in demand for electricity triggered by the economic recession, and 28% can be attributed to switching of fuel from coal to gas responding to the decrease in prices for the latter. The largest factor in the decrease, close to 57%, resulted from an overall decline in emissions per unit of power generated from coal. This is attributed in part to selective idling of older, less efficient coal plants that generally do not incorporate technology for sulfur removal, and in part to continued investments by the power sector in removal equipment in response to the requirements limiting emissions imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). The paper argues further that imposition of a modest tax on emissions of carbon would have ancillary benefits in terms of emissions of \(SO_2\).
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