The Environmental and Public Health Benefits of Achieving High Penetrations of Solar Energy in the United States

The Environmental and Public Health Benefits of Achieving High Penetrations of Solar Energy in the United States

TitleThe Environmental and Public Health Benefits of Achieving High Penetrations of Solar Energy in the United States
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsRyan H Wiser, Trieu Mai, Dev Millstein, Jordan Macknick, Alberta Carpenter, Stuart Cohen, Wesley Cole, Bethany Frew, Garvin A Heath
Series TitleOn the Path to SunShot
Date Published05/2016
CityBerkeley, CA
Other NumbersNREL/TP-6A20-65628
Abstract

This study finds that a future U.S. electricity system in which solar plays a major role—14% of demand in 2030, and 27% in 2050—would result in enduring environmental and health benefits; that the existing fleet of solar power plants is already offering a down-payment towards those benefits; and that there are sizable regional differences in the magnitude of the benefits. The total monetary value of the greenhouse-gas and criteria air pollution benefits of the high-penetration scenario exceeds $400 billion under central estimates, which is equivalent to roughly 3.5¢/kWh-solar. Focusing on the existing end-of- 2014 fleet of solar power projects,recent annual benefits equal more than $1.5 billion under central estimates, which is equivalent to 4.8¢/kWh-solar. Achieving the high-penetration scenario also reduces power-sector water withdrawals by 8% in 2030 and 5% in 2050, relative to the baseline scenario, while water consumption is reduced by 10% in 2030 and 16% in 2050 (see figure below).

Notes

A link to a journal article based on these findings published in Energy can be found here.

LBNL Report Number

LBNL-1004373