Clean Energy Futures – US Should Adopt the 80/30 Standard
- Jul 16, 2021 10:59 am GMT
A new report from a Syracuse University-led research group shows the benefits a target of 80% clean energy by 2030 would be significant
The Clean Energy Futures project is a multi-disciplinary research initiative which aims to clarify the costs and benefits of various electricity generation policies. It is a collaboration between various stakeholders and academics, led by Syracuse University.
An analysis of an illustrative 80×30 Clean Electricity Standard (CES) – that is production of 80 per cent clean energy by 2030 - by the Clean Energy Futures project shows that achieving the Biden Administration’s clean electricity target through a CES would have modest costs and large benefits.
Furthermore, if a CES were passed through budget reconciliation, many of the costs of the clean energy transition would shift to the federal government and electricity rates would likely fall.
The team's study is the first to analyze the air quality and related health benefits for an 80×30 CES. The results show that they are widely distributed across all states in the USA and that the illustrative 80×30 CES has the largest total benefits, climate-related net benefits, and health benefits of eight policies examined. The present value of the estimated climate benefits through 2050 ($637 billion) outweigh the estimated costs ($342 billion).
This 80×30 CES would also prevent an estimated 317,500 premature deaths between now and 2050 and generate estimated present value health benefits of $1.13 trillion due to cleaner air, bringing the estimated present value net benefits to $1.43 trillion for 2020 to 2050.
Eight Power Sector Policy Options
The Clean Energy Futures project analyzed eight power-sector carbon pollution policy options that achieve various emissions reduction targets, including an illustrative CES that achieves the goal of 80 percent clean electricity by 2030. The energy, economic, environmental and health outcomes for the 80x30 CES scenario offer important information on the costs and benefits of such a policy.
Compared to a “Business as Usual” reference case, the illustrative 80x30 CES results in large increases in solar and wind generation by 2030 through 2050. These are the outcomes:
• A rapid reduction of coal generation is projected, reaching nearly zero by 2030
• Natural gas generation is lower than in the no-policy case but persists as a generation source through 2050, with an increasing fraction using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.
• Generation from nuclear, hydropower, and other sources such as biomass remain low and similar to the no-policy case at a national scale
• Renewable energy builds are projected to occur in each of the lower 48 states (Alaska and Hawaii are not modeled), resulting in economic development, air quality improvements, and health and ecosystem benefits
The outcome of this study shows that the costs of utilizing clean energy on a large scale are far outweighed by the benefits that would be realized in many areas of society.
The full report is available here:
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