Study analyzes economic impact of renewable energy in U.S.

Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 3:21 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A new study is detailing the full impact of having 50% renewable energy generation in the United States.

The American Clean Power Association says it and Wood Mackenzie have released a new study that details the full impact of achieving a goal of 50% renewable energy generation in Kansas by 2030. It said the first-of-its-kind study highlights a once-in-a-generation economic opportunity with reaching the goal.

According to the study, by reaching the majority renewable electricity generation within the next 10 years, Kansas will see $11 billion in capital investments from wind and solar projects, 13,700 new renewable energy jobs and $667 million in land lease payments.

ACP said clean energy resources are offering a once-in-a-generation opportunity to drive U.S. economic recovery and add hundreds of thousands of jobs. It said reaching a majority renewables grid will deploy over $1 trillion in capital investment into the economy over the next decade. It said it will also support 980,000 direct jobs, stabilize wholesale power prices and reduce U.S. carbon emissions by over 60%. It said targeted administrative actions and Legislative policies are crucial for the U.S. to get these benefits within the next decade.

“A majority renewables electric system for the U.S. is possible within a decade and will deliver much-needed investments in our economy and create a pathway toward steady, well-paying employment for workers across the country. This research shows that a collaborative promise of an American grid powered by wind, solar, hydropower, energy storage, and other renewables represents an economic powerhouse that will lead our country towards a more prosperous, healthier, and cleaner future,” said Amy Farrell, ACP Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs.

Earlier in 2020, the ACP said the American wind, solar, hydropower and energy storage industries in the nation around a joint vision to generate over half of the country’s electricity within a decade. It said leaders agreed to actively collaborate to achieve the goal. It said the new analysis details how renewable energy industries can move towards building a more resilient, efficient, sustainable and affordable American grid together.

According to the ACP, a Clean Energy Road Map which was proposed by the American Wind Energy Association, which is merging with the ACP in January of 2021, lays out how the federal government can rapidly accelerate the economic growth and renewable energy deployment through executive and legislative action. It said the analysis makes it clear that transmission infrastructure expansion and improvements are crucial to enable the move to a cleaner electric grid. It said continued advances in renewable energy technology and the increased use of energy storage to meet demand will also help improve the reliability of the system and drive prices lower. It said considering the strong track record of transmission more than paying for itself, the vision is possible with limited impact on customer wallets.

“This comprehensive analysis demonstrates that transforming the U.S. power grid is technically and commercially feasible, with appropriate policy support. This activity would unlock a tremendous economic development opportunity for infrastructure investment and associated jobs. Wood Mackenzie utilized our North America Power Markets Long-Term Outlook (H1 2020) as the Base case and developed sensitivity scenarios to accelerate transmission infrastructure and achieve 50% renewable electricity nationwide. Federal and state policy initiatives are required to accelerate transmission development, increase adoption of energy storage technologies and continue the record-setting deployment of wind and solar technologies that have reached commercial maturity,” said Aaron Barr, Principal Consultant in Wood Mackenzie’s Energy Transition Practice.

ACP said unsurprisingly, the transition to a majority renewables future will result in a significantly cleaner grid. It said during the decade, carbon emissions are estimated to decrease by 60%, which is in line with the country’s target under the Paris Agreement.

According to ACP, local benefits do not stop at job creation and economic growth. It said the renewable projects will be a major contributor to state and local tax revenues, as well as payments to landowners. It said the fight towards a 50% renewable energy future is expected to deliver around $64 billion over 10 years in tax and landowner lease payments.

ACP said the industry is currently working on building a 21st-century economy fueled by 21st-century power. It said the shift away from the country’s resilience on now outdated and uneconomical electricity sources will provide innovation, investments and new opportunities that transition the nation towards a prosperous and cleaner future. It said needed infrastructure investments to reach that future will drive economic recovery and benefit local communities, the environment and consumers.

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