Renewables as investment

25 MAY 2019
Forbes has an insightful response and call to action in response to a report by University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute.

The paper outlines how renewables have added $126 Billion to consumers electricity bills to expenditure on gas fired plants and improved electricity grids to cope with the intermittent nature of renewals energy from wind and solar. Likely these investments were required in any case but the main argument that Forbes lays out that expenditures in such infrastructure should be seen as an investment.

A comparable expenditure was President Eisenhower's Interstate Highway system. Forbes estimates that 25% of the USA's productivity improvements in subsequent decades were generated by this investment. Similarly the recent investment in renewables has generated 457,000 new jobs at 2017 compared with 159,000 for coal and natural gas jobs. And this is mostly since 2000.

Another aspect Forbes covers is that the USA will suffer from the effects of climate change more than most other countries and so any amelioration of the impact through investment now is more than worth it. It is imperative. Moreover many electricity utilities report that due to renewables costs to electricity consumers have decreased. Perhaps this is due renewable electricity generating equipment does not need a costly input to generate the electricity. Renewables are powered by 'free' sunlight and wind. Gas and coal plants need constant flows of fuels which are decidedly not free.

Capex for renewables might be higher, but fossil plants have higher opex. The University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute notes this but appears to discount future benefits due to carbon reduction.
By Adaptiv Earth