Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Solar and wind are more cost-effective than coal and natural gas

One of the most often mentioned drawbacks of clean energy is cost-effectiveness with many energy experts claiming that power from clean energy sources such as solar and wind can only be cost-effective when helped by generous subsidies. The recent study published in the Springer's Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences disputes this opinion and claims that carbon pollution from power plants can be cut cost-effectively by using wind and solar energy.

This study argues that it is more cost-effective to get electricity from wind turbines and solar panels than coal-fired power plants when climate change costs and other health impacts are put in the total costs equation. The researchers used the official U.S. government estimates of health and environmental costs from burning fossil fuels and the conclusion of this study was that it is cheaper to replace a typical existing coal-fired power plant with a wind turbine than to keep the old plant running.

Another interesting point from this study was that the new electricity generation from wind turbines could be more economically efficient than natural gas. What this means is that the United States can reduce carbon pollution from power plants in a rather simple but yet cost-effective way, just by replacing coal-fired generation with cleaner options like wind, solar, and natural gas.

Many people still do not realize that burning coal is in fact a very expensive way to generate electricity and that there are more efficient and sustainable ways to generate power. By stepping away from coal fired power plants we can reduce health and climate change costs while in the same time cutting the dangerous carbon dioxide pollution which is driving global warming and climate change issue.

This latest study states that coal power plants are the nation's single largest source of such pollution, accounting for 40 percent of our national carbon footprint. The sad fact is that there are still no federal limits on the amount of carbon pollution coal fired power plants may release which is pretty much nonsense because government has limited the amount of mercury, arsenic, soot, and other harmful pollutants, meaning it is time to also limit carbon pollution.

President Obama has pledged to do that, by using his power under the Clean Air Act to set the first federal limits on the amount of carbon pollution power plants may release. There is however strong opposition coming from critics who claim that putting federal limits on coal fired power plants could raise costs. But, based on this latest study, it can actually reduce the total cost of electricity generation, rather than to increase it as critics argue.

Carbon pollution imposes economic costs by damaging public health and driving destructive climate change. The „social costs“of carbon are very high and there are also massive climate change costs connected with excessive carbon pollution. Climate change is contributing to record heat waves, floods, drought, wildfires and severe storms and these extreme weather events have already caused more than $140 billion in damages in 2012.