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eGRID Explained – What it is, How it’s Used, and What’s New in the 2020 Released Data

What is eGRID?

Emissions and Generation Resource Integrated Database (eGRID) is a comprehensive inventory of environmental attributes of electric power systems.  As the primary source of data for the United States electric power sector, eGRID is based on all available data from all electricity generating plants in the United States. 

What is eGRID used for?

Some of the use cases that eGRID data supports are: Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventories, carbon footprinting, consumer information disclosures, renewable portfolio standards, development of emission inventories or standards, analysis of power markets, and estimating avoided emissions.

What’s new about eGRID 2020 data?

eGRID 2020 data is updated with 2018 data and includes many new data components and changes to their methodology that is important to understand for any use case of their data.  Since eGRID changes its methodology slightly with each edition of new data, it is advised to take caution when comparing data from previous years.

In 2020, there are many ways for businesses to measure and report their environmental and sustainability performance.  With electricity generation being the dominant source of emissions in the United States, it is also the most important for businesses to monitor how their sources of electricity are impacting their carbon footprint.  But this information can be challenging to acquire, especially for businesses trying to track their entire portfolio of properties or locations, as electricity generation varies significantly across the United States.  Enter eGRID, The Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database, which is a comprehensive inventory of environmental attributes of electric power systems throughout all subregions of the United States.  Understanding eGRID and all its use cases can be daunting but is essential to the process of ESG reporting.  This article will cover what exactly makes up eGRID data, how it is used, as well as highlight the changes that can be seen in the newly released (January 2020) data from 2018.

What is eGRID?

Released for the first time in 1998 (and about every other year thereafter), the Emissions and Generation Resource Integrated Database (eGRID) is a comprehensive inventory of environmental attributes of electric power systems.  As the primary source of data for the United States electric power sector, eGRID is based on all available data from all electricity generating plants in the United States.  The environmental characteristics in eGRID include emissions rates, net generation, resource mix, air emissions for nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous gas, and many more properties.  They take generation data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and integrate it with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s emission data, producing valuable variables such as emissions per megawatt-hour of electricity generation (lb/MWh), which is able to directly portray the environmental impact of electricity generation. 

How is eGRID used?

In the United States, electricity is generated from many different sources, all with a wide variation in their environmental impact.  In most states, power generation companies are required by law to disclose the environmental effects of their retail electricity products, which is then consolidated into eGRID’s database.  Some of the use cases that eGRID data supports are:

  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventories
  • Carbon footprinting
  • Consumer information disclosures
  • Renewable portfolio standards
  • Development of emission inventories or standards
  • Analysis of power markets
  • Estimating avoided emissions

In addition, EnergyWatch uses eGRID data in our energy management software-as-a-service platform, watchwire, to calculate electricity emissions at a subregion level.  Watchwire uses this data, along with other commodities’ emissions data from the EIA, to provide the ability to report on your building(s’) or portfolio(s’) emissions and overall carbon footprint.  With watchwire and the integration of eGRID data, you are also able to view the avoided emissions from efficiency projects through watchwire’s measurement and verification module.

What is new in eGRID 2020 Released Data?

On January 28th, 2020, eGRID released their newest eGRID data, “eGRID2018”.  It is updated with 2018 data and includes many new data components and changes to their methodology that is important to understand for any use case of their data.  Here are the highlights:

  • Mercury emissions (when available) are included at the unit-level
  • Global warming potential (GWP) values are updated to the Fourth IPCC Assessment values
  • Heat input and emissions values used to adjust combined heat and power (CHP) plants and biomass plants are added to the plant-level
  • Plant-level sector information is included
  • The number of boilers at the plant-level has been changed to number of units
  • The “Plant operator name” field is changed to “Plant transmission or distribution system owner name” and the “Utility service territory name” field is changed to “Utility name”
  • CH4 and N2O emission factors for refined coal (RC) and waste coal (WC) are updated
  • The emission factor for NOX emissions from flaring of landfill gas (LFG) used in the biomass adjustment of LFG is updated
  • Fuel specific non-baseload generation is added to the State, BA, NERC region, and US levels.
  • Fuel specific emission rates for CH4, N2O, and CO2e are added to the State, BA, eGRID subregion, NERC region, and US levels
  • The grid gross loss (GGL) methodology changed, now excluding exports

Since eGRID changes its methodology slightly with each edition of new data, it is advised to take caution when comparing data from previous years.

While eGRID’s database is useful, its immense amount of data can be difficult to comprehend when looking at many buildings or portfolios across different subregions in the United States.  With eGRID data integrated directly to watchwire’s functionality, it’s easier to track and report on your organization’s emissions. Additionally, watchwire uses eGRID alongside other commodities’ emissions to give you a fuller picture of your environmental impacts.