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Clean Energy Futures – US Should Adopt the 80/30 Standard

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Julian Jackson's picture
Staff Writer, Energy Central, BrightGreen PR

Julian Jackson is a writer whose interests encompass business and technology, cryptocurrencies, energy and the environment, as well as photography and film. His portfolio is here:...

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  • Jul 16, 2021

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.


Major Insights


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:

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jul 16, 2021

Julian, it appears Saudi Aramco, Chevron Corp., Conoco-Phillips, Cheniere Energy, and Shell Oil Company are providing the bulk of funding for SU's study through their shadow group Resources for the Future.

Might that be the reason for the notable omission of nuclear energy in the study, its finding that reliance on natural gas "persists as a generation source through 2050", and its prediction of an "increasing fraction [of natural gas generation] using...CCS technology", when current use of CCS is next-to-nothing?

"[The study] is a collaboration between various stakeholders and academics, led by Syracuse University."

Surely you can understand when any study is funded by oil companies but led by a university, the question becomes "Who's leading whom?".


Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Jul 17, 2021

I used to live in Syracuse and went to SU home of the Orangemen. I would be careful with the term clean energy which is very different than Renewable Energy. Including Nuclear I feel is a very bad option. The Nine Mile Nuclear plant in Oswego NY had a shutdown from Earthquake shaking. It is built right on a fault line which is where the water it needs to cool in from. That is a major disaster in the making. 

   The best Renewable Energy in NYS is Hydro and Geo-Thermal. Lemoyne college in Syracuse has a great Geo-Thermal system. It should be at hundreds of locations. Niagara Falls and other water ways produce hydro power 24/7. 


New York is the largest hydroelectric power producer east of the Rocky Mountains and is fourth in the nation in the generation of electricity from hydropower. More than 300 hydroelectric generating stations – some very small, a few very large and many in between — connect to New York’s electric grid. Hydro plants typically meet at least 17 percent of the state’s total electricity demand with renewable, clean and inexpensive power. 

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Jul 17, 2021

For matters of public policy, it is very important that we put our feelings aside, and look objectively at the data.  We are frequently warned of the (imagined) dangers of nuclear power, but in the real world, it is use of fossil fuels, especially coal and heavy oils that are causing the greatest health impacts of our energy system, by far.  Of the non-fossil options, hydro is actually the worst.

Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on Jul 20, 2021

Pure propaganda from the out-of-touch-with-reality mentality so prevalent in academia. None of the ivory tower “experts” bear any responsibility for the economic damage inflicted by their proposals. How convenient.

Julian Jackson's picture
Thank Julian for the Post!
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