Quantcast

Ohio State Researchers Show How Renewable Energy Standards Reduce Carbon Emissions

A former graduate student and current professor at The Ohio State University have confirmed what many probably thought—when renewable energy portfolio standards (RPS) are legislated, carbon emissions decrease.

OSU Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics professor Brent Sohngen and Samantha Sekar, a research assistant at Washington D.C.-based Resources for the Future, say RPS at the state level across the country reduced national carbon emissions by 4 percent between 1997 and 2010. Their joint paper, The Effects of Renewable Portfolio Standards on Carbon Intensity in the United States, predicts that substantial reductions are in store for the country's future.

Renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in the U.S. reduced national carbon emissions by 4 percent between 1997 and 2010. Photo credit: R Walker/Flickr Creative Commons

"A few states began to adopt RPS in 1994. These regulations created mandatory annual goals for the contribution of renewable energy to a state’s energy portfolio," the paper reads. "Cost–benefit evaluations of state RPS find that, if implemented according to law, RPS should reduce carbon emissions from energy production to a greater extent than transition to natural gas."

The duo defines RPS as directives from state legislatures that require additional production of energy in that state from renewable energy sources like wind or solar energy. They say this is the first study that links RPS with carbon intensity, which reflects an economy’s reliance on carbon-based energy, while taking the types of energy used, overall efficiency and economic output into consideration.

By 2010, 31 of 50 states and Washington D.C. each had an RPS. The research of Sohngen and Sekar takes other impacts of carbon intensity into account, including population density, industry, region and temperature. Still, they suggest that states that have passed RPS are less carbon-intensive than states that have never passed RPS.

"Our results indicate that states that have passed RPS are around 30 percent less carbon-intensive than states that have never adopted a standard," according to the paper.

The research might matter most in states like Ohio, where Sohngen is based. In that state, lawmakers are mulling model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that would significantly curb renewable energy.

“These results are really important for states like Ohio which recently has discussed rolling back its landmark renewable energy legislation," Sohngen said. "The law has helped reduce our state level carbon emissions although residential energy prices are about 0.8 percent higher than they otherwise would be.”

Price increases are the main the deterrent for some when it comes to renewable legislation. In Maine, Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a bill that would have added 1,250 new solar panel and hot water projects at homes and businesses across the state primarily because of an associated tax that would have amounted to 0.011 cents per kilowatt-hour.

"The interaction term between lagged energy prices and passage of the RPS is positive, indicating that the effect of higher energy prices on carbon intensity is smaller (or closer to 0) in states that have passed RPS," the paper reads. "This is interesting because it suggests that higher energy prices will make an economy less carbon-intensive, but the effect of prices is smaller in states that have passed RPS."

The researchers say the 4 percent nationwide emissions reduction figure is significant because not all U.S. states have adopted such standards and those that have are in their initial years of implementation.

“The impact of RPS on U.S. carbon emissions has been increasing annually," Sekar said. "The largest reduction measured in our study was about 4 percent in 2010, meaning that if no RPS had been passed, total U.S. emissions would have been 4 percent higher, and that level of mitigation is expected to increase, because the average percent of renewables mandated in 2010 was 8.6 percent, and in 2020 the average mandate in states that have passed RPS will be 22.7 percent.”

——–

YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE

Why ALEC’s Attacks on Renewable Energy Failed Nationwide

ALEC Attacks Ohio Renewable Energy Standard, Local Newspapers Fail to Show Fossil Fuel

Meet the Governor Who Crippled His State’s Solar Energy Future

——–

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Health
PxHere

This Common Preservative in Processed Food May Be Making You Tired

By Brian Mastroianni

Is it hard to motivate yourself to get off the couch and go exercise?

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
MarioGuti / iStock / Getty Images

EVs 101: Your Guide to Electric Vehicles

By Patrick Rogers

If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
An adult bush dog, part of a captive breeding program. Hudson Garcia

A Rescue Dog Is Now Helping to Save Other (Much Wilder) Dogs

By Jason Bittel

Formidable predators stalk the forests between Panama and northern Argentina. They are sometimes heard but never seen. They are small but feisty and have even been documented trying to take down a tapir, which can top out at nearly 400 pounds. Chupacabras? No.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
RoNeDya / iStock / Getty Images

What Is Mead, and Is It Good for You?

By Ansley Hill, RD, LD

Mead is a fermented beverage traditionally made from honey, water and a yeast or bacterial culture.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
U.S. Army member helps clear debris from Tyndall Air Force Base following Hurricane Michael. U.S. Army

Pentagon: Climate Change Is Real and a 'National Security Issue'

The Pentagon released a Congressionally mandated report (pdf) that warns flooding, drought and wildfires and other effects of climate change puts U.S. military bases at risk.

The 22-page analysis states plainly: "The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense (DoD or the Department) missions, operational plans, and installations."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Protesters interrupt the confirmation hearing for Andrew Wheeler on Capitol Hill Jan. 16 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

5 People Calling Out EPA Acting Head Wheeler for Putting Polluters First

This week, people across the country are joining environmental leaders to speak out against the nomination of former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to lead the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As Scott Pruitt's hand-picked successor, Wheeler has continued to put polluters over people, most recently by using the last of his agency's funding before it expired in the government shutdown to announce plans to allow power plants to spew toxic mercury and other hazardous pollution into the air.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Great white shark. Elias Levy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Marine Biologists Raise Flags About Viral Great White Shark Encounter

By now you might have seen Ocean Ramsey's rare and jaw-dropping encounter with a great white shark in waters near Oahu, Hawaii.

Ramsey, a marine biologist, said on the TODAY Show that it was "absolutely breathtaking and heart-melting" to be approached by the massive marine mammal.

Keep reading... Show less
A tree found severed in half in an act of vandalism in Joshua Tree National Park. Gina Ferazzi / Los AngelesTimes / Getty Images

Wall Before Country Takes Mounting Toll on Americans Everywhere

By Rhea Suh

One month on, the longest and most senseless U.S. government shutdown in history is taking a grave and growing toll on the environment and public health.

Food inspectors have been idled or are working without pay, increasing the risk we'll get sick from eating produce, meat and poultry that isn't properly checked. National parks and public wilderness lands are overrun by vandals, overtaken by off-road joyriders, and overflowing with trash. Federal testing of air and water quality, as well as monitoring of pollution levels from factories, incinerators and other sources, is on hold or sharply curtailed. Citizen input on critical environmental issues is being hindered. Vital research and data collection are being sidelined.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!