However, De Gucht said that the EU is intent on reaching a settlement based on commitments from the Chinese side to eliminate the harmful effects to European producers of the alleged unfair sale of Chinese panels.
New wind and solar installations displace the most carbon dioxide and air pollutants where they replace the coal-fired plants found predominantly in eastern and Midwestern states such as Indiana and Pennsylvania. The benefits are much smaller in California and the US southwest, where cleaner gas-fired plants are more common.
These renewable energies emit less carbon dioxide and air pollution than burning fossil fuels for electricity. But the windiest and sunniest places in the United States — such as the southwestern plains and deserts — are not always the most socially and environmentally beneficial sites for wind turbines and solar panels. The benefits, according to a study published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1, vary depending on what energy sources are being replaced.
That is due to jump to an average of 47 percent on Aug. 6 “which means we should reach the agreement so as to have a solution that can be implemented” by that date, De Gucht said.
To maximize benefits for taxpayers, Lima Azevedo says, policy-makers should think about a subsidy scheme that encourages operators to build plants where they will yield the biggest health and climate gains. The easiest way to do that, she says, would be to price air-pollutant emissions at their source — the power plants.
The findings are “exceedingly interesting” and relevant for any nation weighing the costs and benefits of moving towards more wind and solar energy, says Nebojsa Nakicenovic, an energy-systems analyst at the International Institute of Applied System Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria. “This study clearly shows that, if installation sites are well chosen, the costs that some may feel worried about are in fact more than offset by avoided damages to human health and the environment.”