Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Western states need to reduce coal-fired energy to meet carbon standards, study estimates

Western states can most effectively decrease greenhouse-gas emissions by replacing coal-fired power plants with other energy sources, including nuclear power and renewable energy, according to a new University of California study. Researchers say completely stopping the use of coal is the only way to reduce emissions to a sustainable level. A computer model of the U.S. electric grid was studied to determine options for states west of the Kansas-Colorado border.

Coal-industry supporters have warned that turning from coal will raise the cost of energy. The study estimated that increased natural-gas production, along with renewable sources, would increase electricity rates by about 20 percent. Researchers say that estimate might drop as the electrical grid is updated. "That is a modest cost considering that the future of the planet is at stake," researcher Daniel Kammen told Science Daily.

The study, which will be published in the journal Energy Policy, concluded that current carbon-reduction policy will not make electric-power emissions meet acceptable atmospheric levels, which requires carbon emissions to drop 54 percent by 2030. But the researchers also concluded that the "right mix of renewable energy sources can meet climate goals, given stronger carbon policy." (Read more)

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