Changes in power plant NOx emissions over Northwest Greece using a data assimilation technique

Skoulidou, I., Koukouli, M., Segers, A., Manders, A., Balis, D., Stavrakou, T., van Geffen, J., Eskes, H.: 2021,
Atmosphere 12, 900, 20 pp.


In this work, we investigate the ability of a data assimilation technique and space-borne observations to quantify and monitor changes in nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions over Northwestern Greece for the summers of 2018 and 2019. In this region, four lignite-burning power plants are located. The data assimilation technique, based on the Ensemble Kalman Filter method, is employed to combine space-borne atmospheric observations from the high spatial resolution Sentinel-5 Precursor (S5P) Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) and simulations using the LOTOS-EUROS Chemical Transport model. The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service-Regional European emissions (CAMS-REG, version 4.2) inventory based on the year 2015 is used as the a priori emissions in the simulations. Surface measurements of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from air quality stations operating in the region are compared with the model surface NO2 output using either the a priori (base run) or the a posteriori (assimilated run) NOx emissions. Relative to the a priori emissions, the assimilation suggests a strong decrease in concentrations for the station located near the largest power plant, by 80% in 2019 and by 67% in 2018. Concerning the estimated annual a posteriori NOx emissions, it was found that, for the pixels hosting the two largest power plants, the assimilated run results in emissions decreased by ~40-50% for 2018 compared to 2015, whereas a larger decrease, of ~70% for both power plants, was found for 2019, after assimilating the space-born observations. For the same power plants, the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR) reports decreased emissions in 2018 and 2019 compared to 2015 (-35% and -38% in 2018, -62% and -72% in 2019), in good agreement with the estimated emissions. We further compare the a posteriori emissions to the reported energy production of the power plants during the summer of 2018 and 2019. Mean decreases of about -35% and -63% in NOx emissions are estimated for the two larger power plants in summer of 2018 and 2019, respectively, which are supported by similar decreases in the reported energy production of the power plants (~-30% and -70%, respectively).

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created: 13 July 2021
last modified: 13 July 2021