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Switching to Renewable Energy in the U.S. Will Bring Financial Benefits, Study Says


wind_turbine.jpg.662x0_q100_crop-scaleA study published in the latest issue of the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences by scientists from the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington and University of Cambridge, UK, revealed that switching to renewables will not only be great for the environment but it will also bring quite a number of financial benefits to the U.S. The study estimated the carbon emission reductions by referring to the so-called “social cost of carbon” used as a standard to describe and quantify the benefits of reducing one metric ton of CO2.

It might be hard to accept at first, but generating electricity from fossil fuels is not the cheapest option for the Americans. This is definitely the most widely used and well-established method, but when all health, social and environmental costs are deducted, it turns out that coal-fired power plants are not at all economical.

Around 40% of the U.S. carbon footprint comes from burning coal for electricity production. Although the process is fast and efficient, the consequences for human health and the environment are now becoming irreversible. There is a clear increase in cases of hearth disease and respiratory illnesses, as well as a drastic jump in premature death cases. And this is not even considering the impact high CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have on the environment and our climate, resulting in more frequent and intense weather events.

The study led by Dr. Laurie Johnson had an aim to calculate the cost of each ton of CO2 emitted by a power plant. The estimation shows that society is taxed indirectly $33 dollars for each ton of CO2, while only last year, the government used $100 billion tax dollars in order to deal with extreme weather events due to climate change. And to top this up, the most striking fact of all is that while there is a clear limit on mercury, arsenic and soot, there is no federal limit on possible carbon pollution that a power plant might cause.

According to the authors, the consequences of climate change are becoming more and more apparent, and if no action is taken to reduce carbon pollution, the costs of damages due to floods, droughts and heat waves are likely to keep increasing.

In this respect, the study estimated the amount of money American government would save if they switched to carbon-free energy generating practices. The authors established that it is much cheaper to replace an old coal-fired power plant by a wind turbine, which produces a much more economically efficient electricity. This is also the only way the U.S. can reduce carbon pollution effectively.

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  1. Nice story. Its a shame however none of it can be proven. Pulling energy from the environment is a wonderful idea and maybe you could replace a coal fired plant with a wind turbine but I don’t think so. There are areas in the US that will support wind power and there areas that will not. Blanket solutions never work for everybody. All of the savings mentioned in the above story are based upon carbon staying in or building up in the atmosphere. Carbon does not stay in the air any more than a base ball would if you threw it up into the air. I could write a thousand reports and do a thousand studies that say what I want them to say but it wouldn’t prove anything. Just because you say something over and over does not make it true. If the US stopped using fossil fuels the next day it would not stop climate change and those who want to blame fossil fuels would simply say we didn’t stop soon enough….the out come will still be the same. So in short do we need to clean up our energy production methods? Of course we do. Is it going to change anything? I think not, however you’ll feel better about yourself. I also noticed in the story above the replacement of a coal fired plant with a wind turbine didn’t generate any jobs or economic growth or movement from poverty to the middle class. That’s because it will kill jobs. We can’t manufacture in this country at a price that will compete. Now think about it….how many jobs (lives) are related to that evil coal fired plant. Start with the miners then add the truck drivers and the people keeping that fleet going, now add in the plant workers, then add in the people at the electric company line installers. There are thousands of people who rely on that plant for their lively hood. Now what happens when you replace it with a wind turbine? First the turbine is is made somewhere outside the US, then it is installed which makes for a few temporary jobs, and now it’s up and running. Now the unit must be maintained or monitored and that’s about it. The amount of economic destruction that would be generated by a switch to renewables would far out pace any savings we might gain form trying to control the climate which we cant. Now all the people who claim to have done the math in support of replacing coal fired plants with wind turbines are simply pushing propaganda the debate is one sided and the facts are skewed and not based in reality. That’s why we call it hogwash because no matter how hard you try to whitewash the pig (with reports and studies and statements by scientists) it’s still just a pig.


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