Spatial and Temporal Heterogeneity of Marginal Emissions: Implications for Electric Cars and Other Electricity-Shifting Policies

42 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2012  

Joshua Graff Zivin

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IRPS); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Matthew J. Kotchen

Yale University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Erin T. Mansur

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 28, 2012

Abstract

In this paper, we develop a methodology for estimating marginal emissions of electricity demand that vary by location and time of day across the United States. The approach takes account of the generation mix within interconnected electricity markets and shifting load profiles throughout the day. Using data available for 2007 through 2009, with a focus on carbon dioxide (CO2), we find substantial variation among locations and times of day. Marginal emission rates are more than three times as large in the upper Midwest compared to the western United States, and within regions, rates for some hours of the day are more than twice those for others. We apply our results to an evaluation of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). The CO2 emissions per mile from driving PEVs are less than those from driving a hybrid car in the western United States and Texas. In the upper Midwest, however, charging during the recommended hours at night implies that PEVs generate more emissions per mile than the average car currently on the road. Underlying many of our results is a fundamental tension between electricity load management and environmental goals: the hours when electricity is the least expensive to produce tend to be the hours with the greatest emissions. In addition to PEVs, we show how our estimates are useful for evaluating the heterogeneous effects of other policies and initiatives, such as distributed solar, energy efficiency, and real-time pricing.

Keywords: Carbon Regulation, Electric Car, Pollution

JEL Classification: H23, L94, Q5

Suggested Citation

Graff Zivin, Joshua and Kotchen, Matthew J. and Mansur, Erin T., Spatial and Temporal Heterogeneity of Marginal Emissions: Implications for Electric Cars and Other Electricity-Shifting Policies (September 28, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2153929 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2153929

Joshua Graff Zivin

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IRPS) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0519
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Matthew J. Kotchen

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Erin T. Mansur (Contact Author)

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603 646 2398 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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