Defining a standard metric for electricity savings

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Journal Article

Date Published



Koomey, Jonathan G., Hashem Akbari, Carl Blumstein, Marilyn A. Brown, Richard E. Brown, Chris Calwell, Sheryl Carter, Ralph Cavanagh, Audrey Chang, David Claridge, Paul P. Craig, Richard C. Diamond, Joseph H Eto, William Fulkerson, Ashok J. Gadgil, Howard S. Geller, José Goldemberg, Charles A. Goldman, David B Goldstein, Steve E. Greenberg, David Hafemeister, Jeffrey P. Harris, Hal Harvey, Eric Heitz, Eric Hirst, Holmes Hummel, Daniel M. Kammen, Henry Kelly, John A. Laitner, Mark D. Levine, Amory Lovins, Gil Masters, James E. McMahon, Alan K. Meier, Michael Messenger, John Millhone, Evan Mills, Steven M. Nadel, Bruce Nordman, Lynn K. Price, Joseph J. Romm, Marc Ross, Michael Rufo, Jayant A. Sathaye, Leon J. Schipper, Stephen H. Schneider, James L. Sweeney, Malcolm Verdict, Diana Vorsatz, Devra Wang, Carl Weinberg, Richard Wilk, John Wilson, Ernst Worrell



The growing investment by governments and electric utilities in energy efficiency programs highlights the need for simple tools to help assess and explain the size of the potential resource. One technique that is commonly used in that effort is to characterize electricity savings in terms of avoided power plants, because it is easier for people to visualize a power plant than it is to understand an abstraction like billions of kilowatt hours. Unfortunately, there is no standardization around the characteristics of such power plants. In this article we define parameters for a standard avoided power plant that have physical meaning and intuitive plausibility, for use in back-of-the-envelope calculations. For the prototypical plant this article settles on a 500-megawatt existing coal plant operating at a 70% capacity factor with 7% T&D losses. Displacing such a plant for one year would save 3 billion kWh/year at the meter and reduce emissions by 3 million metric tons of CO2 per year.The proposed name for this metric is the Rosenfeld, in keeping with the tradition among scientists of naming units in honor of the person most responsible for the discovery and widespread adoption of the underlying scientific principle in question – Dr. Arthur H. Rosenfeld.


Environmental Research Letters



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