Energy Sectors Poised to Capture Economic Benefit, Combat Climate Change

October 13, 2014 By Karen Henry

newgen-elec-cost-energy-manageEmerging technologies in several energy sectors could help the United States achieve deeper reductions in greenhouse gas emissions while also saving the country billions of dollars, according to Seeing Is Believing: Creating a New Climate Economy in the United States, a study by World Resources Institute (WRI).

Seeing is Believing focuses on a number of energy-specific opportunities that help reduce the United States’ carbon footprint:

Power Generation

  • New natural-gas-fired power plants already cost between 19 and 44 percent less than new coal-fired power plants.
  • In many states and regions, renewable energy is becoming cheaper than building new coal plants, and in some parts of the country, renewable energy is even cheaper than natural gas plants.
  • Increased renewable energy generation has the potential to save American ratepayers tens of billions of dollars a year over the current mix of electric power options, amounting to savings of $83–$241 per person per year, according to studies by Synapse Energy Economics and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Electricity Consumption

  • Many major appliances are 50 to 80 percent more efficient than they were just a few decades ago—saving consumers billions in energy savings and reducing emissions.
  • Utilities can procure energy efficiency at one-half to one-third the cost of new electricity generation.
  • State energy efficiency programs regularly save customers $2 for every $1 invested, and in some cases up to $5.

Natural Gas Systems

  • Recent standards to reduce methane leaks are expected to save industry millions of dollars per year, while reduced air pollution will have substantial health benefits.
  • Methane emissions can be reduced by 25 percent or more through measures that pay for themselves in three years or less, and even deeper reductions are possible at just a few cents per thousand cubic feet of gas.

Seeing is Believing provides recommendations for achieving additional economic gains through long-term policy certainty for businesses and investors via standards, carbon pricing, or other mechanisms; driving technological improvements through research and development; and providing a better investment environment for new technologies.

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