US Clean Energy Futures—Air Quality Benefits of Zero Carbon Energy Policies

Petros N. Vasilakos, Huizhong Shen, Qasim Mehdi, Peter Wilcoxen, Charles Driscoll, Kathy Fallon, Dallas Burtraw, Maya Domeshek, Armistead G. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In this work, we compare the air quality benefits of a variety of future policy scenarios geared towards controlling EGU (electricity generating units) emissions between the present-day conditions and 2050. While these policies are motivated by reducing CO2 emissions, they also yield significant co-benefits for criteria pollutants, such as ozone and PM2.5. An integrated set of clean energy policies were examined to assess the time-varying costs and benefits of a range of decarbonization strategies, including business as usual and the Affordable Clean Energy plan, with a primary focus on others that look to achieve very low, if not zero, CO2 emissions from the EGU sector by 2050. Benefits assessed include mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions as well as air quality co-benefits. In this introductory work, we describe the potential air quality changes from various clean air policies, to set the stage for upcoming work looking at health and monetized benefits. Emission changes for key pollutants are forecast using the Integrated Planning Model (IPM), which are then transformed into emission inputs for the Community Multiscale Air Quality Model (CMAQ). For all primary scenarios considered that achieve large greenhouse gas decreases, significant reductions in ozone and PM are realized, mainly in the eastern US, and all policies produce air quality benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1401
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ)
  • PM
  • clean energy standards (CES)
  • electricity generating units (EGUs)
  • ozone
  • policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


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