Quantifying the Air Pollution Exposure Consequences of Distributed Electricity Generation

November 8, 2005 - 12:00pm
Bldg. 90

This talk will highlight my research investigating differences in potential for human inhalation exposure to air pollutants emitted by distributed electricity generation (DG) technologies and existing central station power plants in California.  The most sophisticated research on environmental impacts of DG has focused on evaluating spatially and temporally resolved air pollutant concentrations (e.g., ozone) that result from scenarios of future deployment of DG technologies (Samuelsen at al., 2003 and collaborations amongst Tonse, van Buskirk and Heath, unpublished). I extend this research to consider the relationship between where pollutants are emitted and where people will encounter these pollutants. Owing to shorter stack heights and siting in areas with higher population density than typical central stations, the potential for higher population exposure to air emissions from DG technologies is apparent but as yet unquantified. This seminar will present results based on Guassian plume modeling of 25 central stations and 37 DG sites (considering 5 different DG technologies) in California (see http://repositories.cdlib.org/ucei/devtech/EDT-005/ for excruciating details of this research). Distributional aspects of exposure to power sector emissions will also be explored, evaluating differences between population exposure to DG and central station emissions as a function of distance from a source and amongst various racial/ethnic subpopulations. In addition, the beneficial impacts of combined heat and power systems will be considered. Metrics used in these analyses are the intake fraction (ratio of mass of pollutant inhaled by an exposed population to the mass emitted by a particular source) and the intake-to-generation ratio (mass of pollutant inhaled by an exposed population per kilowatt-hour of electricity delivered to the site of use).

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