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Saving the Planet

civil engineering / undergraduate research

A new index that will measure carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. electric power producers has been created by Carnegie Mellon University and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems.

The Carnegie Mellon Power Sector Carbon Index will track the environmental performance of U.S. power producers and compare current emissions to historical data collected nationwide for more than two decades. A quarterly press release will inform interested parties of power sector carbon emissions trends. Carnegie Mellon will unveil the new index March 28 during Energy Week at Carnegie Mellon's Scott Institute for Energy Innovation. More than 700 energy research, policy, industry and academic leaders are expected to attend.

"The Carnegie Mellon Power Sector Carbon Index will provide a snapshot of critical data regarding energy production and environmental performance," said Costa Samaras, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon.

In addition, Carnegie Mellon will provide an online resource for a wide variety of power sector emissions data and forecasts.

"Launching the index during Carnegie Mellon's Energy Week will expose the data to a wide range of industry leaders and should prompt a useful discussion about the progress being made by the power sector," said InĂªs Azevedo, associate professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon.

The U.S. electricity sector is rapidly changing with construction of renewable and natural gas power projects, retirements of coal and nuclear power plants, the addition of air and water emission control devices, and improvements to the efficiency and emissions of existing power plants. The index will provide policymakers, regulators, utilities, industry analysts and the public with a source of objective information on overall emissions across the U.S. electric power grid.

"As older, inefficient coal-fired power plants have been replaced with renewables and highly efficient natural gas power plants, our industry has made significant progress in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and other emissions during the past decade," said Paul Browning, president and CEO of Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems MHPS Americas and a 1990 alumnus of Carnegie Mellon's College of Engineering.

"As the power sector continues to evolve, the Carnegie Mellon Power Sector Carbon Index will provide useful insights into progress the power sector is making to safeguard the environment while meeting the nation's energy demand. As a leading provider of products and services that power a brighter future, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems is proud to support this important work by Carnegie Mellon," Browning said.