02 Jan 2023
02 Jan 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Monitoring and quantifying CO2 emissions of isolated power plants from space

Xiaojuan Lin1,2, Ronald van der A2,4, Jos de Laat2, Henk Eskes2, Frédéric Chevallier3, Philippe Ciais3, Zhu Deng1, Yuanhao Geng5, Xuanren Song1, Xiliang Ni6, Da Huo1, Xinyu Dou1, and Zhu Liu1 Xiaojuan Lin et al.
  • 1Department of Earth System Science, Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Earth System Modeling, Institute for Global Change Studies, Tsinghua University, Beijing, 100084, China
  • 2KNMI, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, De Bilt, 3730 AE, the Netherlands
  • 3Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, UMR8212, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 4Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology (NUIST), Nanjing, 210044, China
  • 5Department of Statistics, School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Wisconsin, 53706, USA
  • 6Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Ecology and Resource Use of the Mongolian Plateau & Inner Mongolia Key Laboratory of Grassland Ecology, School of Ecology and Environment, Inner Mongolia University, Hohhot, 010021, China

Abstract. Abstract: Top-down CO2 emission estimates based on satellite observations are potentially of great importance for independently verifying the accuracy of reported emissions and emission inventories. Difficulties in verifying these satellite-derived emissions arise from the fact that emission inventories often provide annual mean emissions while estimates from satellites are available only for a limited number of overpasses. Previous studies have derived CO2 emissions for power plants from OCO-2 and OCO-3 observations of their exhaust plumes, but the accuracy and the factors affecting these emissions are uncertain. We have selected only isolated power plants for this study, to avoid complications link to multiple sources in close proximity. We first compare the Gaussian plume model and cross-sectional flux methods for estimating CO2 emission of power plants. Then we examined the sensitivity of the emission estimates to possible choices for the wind field. For verification we have used power plant emissions that are reported on an hourly basis by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States. By using the OCO-2 and OCO-3 observations over the past four years we identified emission signals of isolated power plants and arrived at a total of 50 collocated cases involving 22 power plants. We correct for the time difference between the moment of the emission and the satellite observation. We found the wind field halfway the height of planetary boundary layer (PBL) yielded the best results. We found that the instantaneous satellite estimated emissions of these 50 cases and reported emissions display a weak correlation (R2=0.12). The correlation improves with averaging over multiple observations of the 22 power plants (R2=0.40). The method was subsequently applied to 106 power plants cases worldwide yielded a total emission of 1522 ± 501 Mt CO2/year, estimated to be about 17 % of the power sector emissions of our selected countries. The improved correlation highlights the potential for future planned satellite missions with a greatly improved coverage to monitor a significant fraction of global power plant emissions.

Xiaojuan Lin et al.

Status: open (until 13 Feb 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1490', Ray Nassar, 24 Jan 2023 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1490', Gerrit Kuhlmann, 31 Jan 2023 reply

Xiaojuan Lin et al.


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Short summary
Satellite observations provide evidence for CO2 emission signals from isolated power plants. We use these satellite observations to quantify emissions. We found that for power plants with multiple observations, the correlation of estimated and reported emissions is significantly improved compared to a single observation case. This demonstrates that accurate estimation of power plant emissions can be achieved by monitoring from future satellite missions with more frequent observations.