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A Methodology To Constrain Carbon Dioxide Emissions From Coal-fired Power Plants Using Observations Of
Co-emitted Nitrogen Dioxide 

Problem:

For most world countries, there are large uncertainties associated with CO2 emissions from thermal power plants, which contributed ~40% of energy-related CO2 emissions globally in 2010. It is important to accurately monitor these emissions in order to better predict climate change and to support the development of more effective climate mitigation strategies. 

However, 1) CO2 emissions are not reliably measured (at stack) and reported for most power plants around the world, and 2) inferring CO2 emissions directly from satellite observations of CO2 is challenging, especially because of poor spatial coverage.

Solution:

The known linear relationship between NOx and CO2 emissions reported by the U.S. continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS) (left) makes it possible to use satellite data of NO2 to infer NOx emissions and co-emitted CO2 emissions (right).


A Complement to Direct CO2 Observations:

This method has the potential to supply complementary information to direct satellite observations of CO2, which together can provide a better constraint for CO2 emissions from world power plants.

Figure 1

Relationship between reported (at stack) NOx and CO2 emissions

 Figure 2

Comparison of CO2 emissions (inferred from OMI NO2 data) and reported CO2 emissions

Relationships to future missions

The accuracy of the method will likely be substantially improved with satellite NO2 data with finer spatial resolution, such as from the recently launched TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) on the ESA Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite and upcoming geostationary satellite instruments (e.g., NASA Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution, TEMPO).


Technical description of figure:

Figure (a) shows the strong linear relationship between NOx and CO2 emissions reported by continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS) for the US coal-fired power plants. Figure (b) shows CO2 emissions derived from OMI observations of co-emitted NO2 based on the fact that NOx and CO2 emissions are closely correlated. The OMI-based CO2 emissions estimates can be used on its own to capture the temporal variations in CO2 emissions. It can also serve as complementary verification of bottom-up inventories or be used to supplement these inventories. 

Scientific significance, societal relevance, and relationships to future missions:

The OMI NO2-based CO2 emission estimation approach is timely as it is currently not feasible to infer CO2 emissions directly from satellite observations of CO2 with current sensors, and CO2 emissions are not reliably measured (at stack) and reported for most power plants around the world.  The accuracy of the method can be substantially improved in the future using observations from the recently launched TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) on the ESA Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite, which features even higher spatial resolution than OMI. More accurate estimates for diurnally and seasonally varying emissions can be expected using upcoming geostationary satellite instruments, e.g., NASA Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO), which will enable estimations for different times of the day.

Data Sources:

Satellite-derived emission estimates are based on NO2 measurements from the Aura Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI). OMI is a Dutch–Finnish contribution to the NASA Aura mission.


References: Liu, F., Duncan, B. N., Krotkov, N. A., Lamsal, L. N., Beirle, S., Griffin, D., McLinden, C. A., Goldberg, D. L., and Lu, Z.: A methodology to constrain carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants using satellite observations of co-emitted nitrogen dioxide, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 20, 99-116, 10.5194/acp-20-99-2020, 2020.


3.2020


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