MSU-EPRI N20 offsets methodology wins key approval

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New Verified Carbon Standard Methodology Gives Farmers Access to the Economic Benefits of Carbon Finance
Contact: Phil Robertson
Principal Investigator and University Distinguished Professor
269 671-2267
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PALO ALTO, Calif. – The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Michigan State University (MSU) announced today the approval of its nitrous oxide (N2O) offsets methodology for use in the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) greenhouse gas (GHG) offsets program.

The methodology, developed jointly by EPRI and MSU, makes it possible for farmers to participate in carbon markets by creating GHG offsets by reducing the amount of nitrogen used to fertilize crops. Agricultural use of nitrogen fertilizer results in N2O emissions, a potent GHG, to the atmosphere. The offsets can be sold to other carbon market participants to meet GHG emission reduction targets or requirements.

EPRI and MSU developed this methodology as part of a two-year collaborative research project. Similar methodologies have also been approved under the Climate Action Reserve and the American Carbon Registry.

GHG offsets can be an option for electric generators and other industries to reduce GHG emissions more cost-effectively than would be possible as state and federal environmental regulations are adopted. As a compliance option, offsets allow companies to substitute lower-cost GHG offsets for more expensive internal emissions reductions or buying CO2 emissions allowances.

“When farmers reduce their nitrogen fertilizer use, they can generate carbon offset credits, which can then be sold to other participants in the carbon markets,” said Adam Diamant, technical executive at EPRI and co-author of the methodology. “This innovative approach is a way to achieve a benefit for farmers and for industries that may be required to reduce their GHG emissions.”

Nitrogen fertilizers represent one of the largest sources of GHG emissions from global agricultural production resulting in significant emissions of N2O, a GHG with approximately 300 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide (CO2).

“Reducing N2O emissions in row-crop agriculture like corn and wheat is one of the most promising approaches to reducing agricultural GHG emissions in the United States and abroad,” said Phil Robertson, principal investigator and MSU distinguished professor of plant, soil and microbial sciences.    

The science that underlies the offsets methodology comes from two decades of research conducted by MSU at the Kellogg Biological Station Long-Term Ecological Research site, which Robertson directs,  and on scientific data developed by MSU through farm-field testing conducted from 2008 – 2010 in collaboration with EPRI.

“This methodology helps farmers optimize their use of nitrogen fertilizer and make money at the same time,” said VCS Chief Executive Officer David Antonioli. “By applying less nitrate based fertilizer, farmers can generate offset credits and sell them on the open market, thereby benefiting the environment and their bottom line.”

The VCS approved version of the MSU-EPRI N2O offsets methodology is referred to as VCS methodology VM0022: Quantifying N2O Emissions Reductions in Agricultural Crops through Nitrogen Fertilizer Rate Reduction. All supporting documents to this methodology can be downloaded on the VCS website. Additional background information on the methodology is available for download from EPRI’s website.

About EPRI
The Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI, conducts research and development relating to the generation, delivery and use of electricity for the benefit of the public. An independent, nonprofit organization, EPRI brings together its scientists and engineers as well as experts from academia and industry to help address challenges in electricity, including reliability, efficiency, health, safety and the environment. EPRI’s members represent approximately 90 percent of the electricity generated and delivered in the United States, and international participation extends to more than 30 countries. EPRI’s principal offices and laboratories are located in Palo Alto, Calif.; Charlotte, N.C.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Lenox, Mass.

About Michigan State University 
Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.

About Verified Carbon Standard
Founded in 2005 by the Climate Group, the International Emissions Trading Association, the World Economic Forum, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the Verified Carbon Standard has become one of the world’s most widely used carbon accounting standards. VCS has revolutionized the market developing trusted and innovative tools, as well as pioneering efforts to develop standardized methods that will streamline the project approval process, reduce transaction costs and enhance transparency. Across the world, projects using the VCS Standard have issued more than 118 million credits.

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