Impacts of lowered urban air temperatures on precursor emission and ozone air quality
Meteorological, photochemical, building-energy, and power plant simulations were performed to assess the possible precursor emission and ozone air quality impacts of decreased air temperatures that could result from implementing the "cool communities" concept in California's South Coast Air Basin (SoCAB). Two pathways are considered. In the direct pathway, a reduction in cooling energy use translates into reduced demand for generation capacity and, thus, reduced precursor emissions from electric utility power plants. In the indirect pathway, reduced air temperatures can slow the atmospheric production of ozone as well as precursor emission from anthropogenic and biogenic sources.
The simulations suggest small impacts on emissions following implementation of cool communities in the SoCAB. In summer, for example, there can be reductions of up to 3% in NOx emissions from in-basin power plants. The photochemical simulations suggest that the air quality impacts of these direct emission reductions are small. However, the indirect atmospheric effects of cool communities can be significant. For example, ozone peak concentrations can decrease by up to 11% in summer and population-weighted exceedance exposure to ozone above the California and National Ambient Air Quality Standards can decrease by up to 11 and 17%, respectively. The modeling suggests that if these strategies are combined with others, such as mobile-source emission control, the improvements in ozone air quality can be substantial.