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Wednesday 25 November 2015

Clean Air Act, one of the driving forces behind energy efficiency in the US industry

Air | No comments

by Nathalie Mettling | 10.27.11


In the current context of climate change in the United States, all eyes are set on the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and especially on the next changes that will be made to the Clean Air Act, which is turning 40 this year! This law, passed in 1970 by the Congress, defines the EPA’s objectives and responsibility in terms of air quality conservation and ozone layer protection. It has been amended in 1990 and very little change has been made to it since.

Several significant air quality programs are currently being implemented in the United States. They are offering a wide range of opportunities to specialized firms, particularly to those that have expertise in metrology and atmospheric modeling.

The Air Transport Rule (formerly Clean Air Interstate Rule) is a program proposed by the EPA, which aims at reducing power stations’ emissions in 31 States in the east of the United States. By 2014, the objective is to reduce power stations’ SO2 emissions by 71% compared to 2005 and NOX emissions by 52%. By pooling objectives on a wider area, it takes into account air movements, thus potentially making it possible to reach better results while involving the responsibility of various States.

This text shows how important it is to model not only atmospheric movements but also the main target, that is energy production centers, particularly those using coal, which are for the most part located in eastern States.

Some may consider these texts as too punitive, yet a report from the World Resources Institute, located in Washington DC, correctly highlights how the implementation of the Clean Air Act can be the driving force behind a global improvement of energy efficiency in the United States industry (reduced consumption leads to reduced emissions). According to the same report, in the refinery and glass industry more particularly, the economic gain obtained thanks to the implementation of more efficient processes could cover all or part of the investment required to bring an installation up to environmental standards (the purchasing of filters, etc.).

European and French technologies and expertise are recognized in the United States

These last few years, measuring and modeling have become increasingly important for the mere reason that precise measuring is becoming necessary to define targets and take effective action. It also turns out that information management often leads to reduced treatment costs by operating simple leverages that require less investment: stopping production at specific moments, promoting more efficient processes, etc.

The French company Numtech (Seth group) approached the Californian market last year through Ubifrance. Numtech brings new and complete expertise on the study of the various atmospheric phenomena. Building on its experience in complex environments, it provides models and above all more precise interpretation compared to the solutions that are currently available on the market. It is worth noting that beyond industrial applications, urban models are developing more and more frequently via platforms made available to the public, such as AirNow in the United States.

With the same concern for measuring and information, the company Leosphere is developing lidars to measure winds aloft. Its first market in the United States is the wind turbine market, which has been significantly growing for the past few years. Indeed, in this sector, measuring winds is essential to assess the potential of a project.

Federal and local regulations encourage industrialists to respond in an innovative and more efficient way to the issues concerning air quality. Europe and France were able to cite their own regulations, which are ahead of United States’s, as grounds for developing technologies and expertise now recognized in the United States. It is now up the French companies that are eco-innovative in this sector to make good use of this legitimacy.

Image credit (above): Numtech

The main Cap & Trade programs

Cap & Trade is an American environmental policy tool that makes it compulsory for industrialists and other corporate bodies not to exceed certain limits in terms of emissions while providing compensation mechanisms. Among the federal Cap & Trade programs that have been implemented in the United States these last few years and given conclusive results, we may cite: the Clean Air Interstate Rule; the Clean Air Visibility Rule (CAVR); the Acid Rain Program; the NOX Budget Trading Program. The Assembly Bill is also a Cap & Trade program but only for California: its target is to bring greenhouse gas emissions in California down to the 1990 level by 2020!

Author’s Express Bio

corps_nathaliemettling_101019Nathalie Mettling, Environmental Development Officer at Ubifrance, San Francisco.

She works more specifically in the water, air and waste sectors.

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