Published in Environmental Research Letters, Volume 5, Issue 1, January 1, 2010, pages 1-10. Copyright © 2010 IOPscience. The definitive version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/5/1/014017.
The growing investment by governments and electric utilities in energy efficiency programs highlights the need for simple tools to help assess and explain the size of the potential resource. One technique that is commonly used in this effort is to characterize electricity savings in terms of avoided power plants, because it is easier for people to visualize a power plant than it is to understand an abstraction such as billions of kilowatt-hours. Unfortunately, there is no standardization around the characteristics of such power plants.
In this letter we define parameters for a standard avoided power plant that have physical meaning and intuitive plausibility, for use in back-of-the-envelope calculations. For the prototypical plant this article settles on a 500 MW existing coal plant operating at a 70% capacity factor with 7% T&D losses. Displacing such a plant for one year would save 3 billion kWh/year at the meter and reduce emissions by 3 million metric tons of CO2 per year.
The proposed name for this metric is the Rosenfeld, in keeping with the tradition among scientists of naming units in honor of the person most responsible for the discovery and widespread adoption of the underlying scientific principle in question—Dr Arthur H Rosenfeld.