California Emissions Reductions


Synapse was retained by the California Energy Commission to assess the possibility of abating air emissions in California through the implementation of energy efficiency and renewable generation programs. The project occurred in two phases. The goal of the first phase of the project was to first build upon existing data and models to develop a framework for estimating the emissions reductions attributable to specific clean energy resources and then to apply these methodologies to develop estimates of emissions reductions applicable to clean energy projects in California. The primary steps of the project consisted of identifying and characterizing various renewable energy projects and the state’s energy efficiency potential, the assessment of models and their strengths and limitations, a discussion of the protocol for determining SIP credits, and the identification of evaluation procedures to validate the effectiveness of projects or measures. This project involved the development of both a near-term and a long-term emission displacement quantification framework.

In phase two, Synapse developed a spreadsheet tool for California air districts to use to estimate the quantity of air emissions that can be reduced from the state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy (EE/RE) programs. Synapse performed electric system dispatch modeling to evaluate energy effects on EE/RE, and whether the location of the EE/RE resource reveals differences in what generation is displaced. Model outputs were then used to calculate potential criteria and greenhouse gas pollutant reductions. The spreadsheet tool is intended to be an asset to air districts, as they assess the efficacy of various control measures that can be implemented to attain ozone and fine particulate air quality standards, and to help meet California’s 2050 greenhouse gas reduction goals. 

Project completed 2011