NREL examines the benefits and impacts of Renewable Portfolio Standards

The second report in a series from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “A Retrospective Analysis of the Benefits and Impacts of U.S. Renewable Portfolio Standards,” provides an in-depth look at state Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) in order to help decision makers gauge key outcomes from these programs.

It’s specifically focused on benefits related to greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and water use, but also highlights impacts on jobs and wholesale electricity and natural gas markets.

New renewable energy resources used to meet RPS compliance obligations in 2013 led to:

  • Life-cycle GHG emissions reduced by 59 million metric tons CO2e which translates to $2.2 billion of global benefits (based on social cost of carbon of $37/metric ton of CO2).
  • Reduced national emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter 2.5 which translates to $5.2 billion of health and environmental benefits.
  • Water use reductions “equivalent to savings of 8,420 gallons of withdrawal and 270 gallons of consumption per megawatt-hour (MWh) of new RE used for 2013 RPS compliance.”
  • New and existing RPS renewable generation “supported nearly 200,000 U.S.-based gross jobs in 2013 and drove over $20 billion in gross domestic product (GDP).”
  • Wholesale electricity price reductions saved consumers up to $1.2 billion.
  • Natural gas price reductions (between 5¢-14¢/MMBtu) saved consumers $1.3-$3.7 billion.

Read the report here.


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