Fossil fuels are not necessarily the cheapest option for the U.S.' energy future, and renewable energy and energy efficiency could achieve over $80 billion in lower energy costs, says a new study by Synapse Energy Economics prepared for nonprofit group Civil Society Institute.
The report outlines a realistic transition to a cleaner energy future that would result in a net savings of $83 billion over the next 40 years, and details other major benefits, including the avoidance of tens of thousands of premature deaths due to pollution, the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs, sharp cuts in carbon pollution, and significant cuts in water consumption for power production.
According to Synapse, the costs prevented by avoiding harmful impacts on power production, health and the environment would make energy efficiency and renewable energy more affordable options than fossil fuels. In addition, the price of coal has increased, while the price of renewable energy has declined.
‘We find that a transition to efficiency and renewable energy for our electricity is likely to be less expensive than the business-as-usual, status-quo approach," says Bruce Biewald, president of Synapse Energy Economics. "There are indications now that the cost of replacing coal with clean energy is falling. The current and projected price of coal has increased, and the price of photovoltaic systems has fallen sharply since 2009 – a result of unprecedented growth in this sector globally.
"Further, the financial community is placing higher risk premiums on technologies with carbon emissions, making renewable energy and efficiency more attractive," Biewald adds.