A shift in emission time profiles of fossil fuel combustion due to energy transitions impacts source receptor matrices for air quality
Effective air pollution and short-lived climate forcer mitigation strategies can only be designed when the effect of emission reductions on pollutant concentrations and health and ecosystem impacts are quantified. Within integrated assessment modeling source-receptor relationships (SRRs) based on chemistry transport modeling are used to this end. Currently, these SRRs are made using invariant emission time profiles. The LOTOS-EUROS model equipped with a source attribution module was used to test this assumption for renewable energy scenarios. Renewable energy availability and thereby fossil fuel back up are strongly dependent on meteorological conditions. We have used the spatially and temporally explicit energy model REMix to derive time profiles for backup power generation. These time profiles were used in LOTOS-EUROS to investigate the effect of emission timing on air pollutant concentrations and SRRs. It is found that the effectiveness of emission reduction in the power sector is significantly lower when accounting for the shift in the way emissions are divided over the year and the correlation of emissions with synoptic situations. The source receptor relationships also changed significantly. This effect was found for both primary and secondary pollutants. Our results indicate that emission timing deserves explicit attention when assessing the impacts of system changes on air quality and climate forcing from short lived substances.