A new Harvard study displays that to achieve the biggest developments in public health and the greatest profits from renewable energy, wind turbines should be installed in the Upper Midwest and solar power should be fitted in the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions. When altering for energy generated, the benefits ranged from $28 per MWh of energy created from wind in California, to $113 per MWh of wind in the Upper Midwest and for utility-scale solar in the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic. The study in Environmental Research Letters by the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Harvard C-CHANGE) delivers a guide for policymakers, businesses, and utilities on where to install renewable energy in the U.S. to get the most out of their health and climate benefits.
The researchers established a model of the 10-regions of the U.S. electrical grid. Using the social price of carbon–which assigns a dollar value to the undesirable consequences of climate change–they calculated the profits of carbon dioxide reduction for each area and energy type. Health profits come from air quality improvements that decrease premature deaths and climate benefits come from reduced impacts of droughts, dangerous weather events, sea-level rise, displacement of refugees, disturbances to farming, and climate-related diseases.
“Our results deliver a strong argument for fitting more renewable energy to decrease the health impacts of climate change, and the health load of air pollution.” stated Jonathan Buonocore, the head author and a research associate at Harvard C-CHANGE.