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Development of Renewable Energy and its Impact on Air Quality. Co-benefits and Trade-Offs.

Couvidat, Florian; Lopez-Aparicio, Susana; Schucht, Simone; Real, Elsa; Grythe, Henrik


Publikasjon: Development of Renewable Energy and its Impact on Air Quality. Co-benefits and Trade-Offs.
Serie: Eionet Report - ETC/ATNI, 2020/6
År: 2021
Utgiver: ETC/ATNI, Kjeller
ISBN: 978-82-93752-23-3
Lenke: Fulltekst

This study is an continuation of the work initiated in the European Topic Centre on Climate Change Mitigation and Energy (ETC/CME; report 2019/8) on the effect of the development of renewable energy sources (RES) since 2005 on emissions of anthropogenic air pollutants, which found that RES have led to an estimated increase of primary particulate matter emissions and a decrease of emissions of sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides. The current study aims at evaluating the impact of these emission changes on air quality and human health by using the air quality model CHIMERE to understand the distribution of emissions. To this end, the emissions corresponding to a reference scenario and to different scenarios of development of renewable energy sources were spatialized over Europe based on the spatialization of emissions used within the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS). The CHIMERE model was applied to calculate, for the year 2016, the impact of the different scenarios on air quality. Finally, the possible impact on human health was assessed. We also include a specific section devoted to residential emission spatialization techniques to review the related uncertainties. According to the simulation results using emissions based on official data, significant increases of particulate matter concentrations exceeding 1 μg/m3 were found for some countries, linked primarily to the increase in residential wood burning when comparing 2005 with 2016. Exceptions were Portugal and Greece (two countries that decreased their use of biomass for heating). At the scale of the EU27+UK, in 2016, the interplay between emission increases due to biomass use and emission decreases due to all other RES growth is estimated to be responsible for around 9 200 premature deaths and 97 000 years of life lost. As such, the increase in solid biomass heating alone, (due particularly by the high emissions of fine particulate matter from domestic stoves), is estimated to be responsible for an increase of around 10 700 premature deaths and 113 000 years of life lost in 2016. These premature deaths could have been prevented by promoting the development of other RES than solid biomass heating. Similar results were found at the European scale with simulations using emissions based on expert estimates but with strong differences according to the country. The differences are mostly due to differences in emissions that may not account for semi-volatile organic compounds for some countries. Excluding heating with biomass, all other RES use appears to have led to small reductions of particulate matter concentrations across the Union, with air quality benefits estimated at 1 600 avoided premature deaths and 16 000 prevented years of life lost in 2016. This is because the deployment of RES other than heating from solid biomass from 2005 to 2016 only lead to small changes in emissions of pollutants. However, these sources represented only 13% of the heating and electricity production in 2016.